It can be hard to admit when we see the signs of old age in our animal companions. Pets age differently based on breed and size, but the fact is that most dogs are considered seniors when they reach seven, cats around ten. Obviously, pets age much more rapidly than humans, which means diseases and illness progress faster as well.
The doctors and staff and Animal Hospital of the Sierra are dedicating to helping your pet thrive at all stages of life. Like you, we want your pet to have the longest, healthiest, and most comfortable life possible. Exams for senior pets will include screening labwork so that we can track how your pet is aging, and we’ll be more likely to catch any developing diseases before they’re big problems.
Blood tests are one of the most important parts of a senior exam. These blood screenings monitor red and white blood cell counts and reveal how well the kidney, liver, pancreas, and thyroid are functioning. Your vet may also recommend a chest x-ray to ensure that the heart is a normal size and that there are no masses in the lungs.
Periodontal disease is always a threat to our pets’ health and comfort, and it’s particularly tough on older pets. That’s why a dental exam is always part of any senior pet screening as well.
One of the most common conditions seen in elder pets is osteoarthritis. General symptoms in dogs include limping and a loss of muscle mass, reluctance to exercise or play, and may also include areas that are sensitive to touch. In cats, the symptoms may be more subtle, but usually a reluctance to jump or leap up as before is a tell-tale sign. We can help your arthritic pet feel more comfortable utilizing a variety of treatments including medication and physical therapy.
Finally, make sure to let your vet know about any behavior changes in your pet. Once dogs and cat get to the geriatric stage, monitoring for signs of cognitive dysfunction—such as losing housebreaking, getting lost or wandering aimlessly—is very important.