The Stages of Your Pet’s Life
Just like the people that care for them, pets have distinct life stages complete with unique requirements. The needs of puppies and kittens vary from those of adult cats and dogs. In the same way, senior pet care has its own set of benchmarks that, when addressed and met, help to support an animal’s day-to-day wellness, increase quality of life, and impact longevity.
Building the Framework
We established your pet’s lifelong health in their infancy. By providing them with routine care, balanced nutrition, exercise and enrichment opportunities, dental care, and disease prevention (to name a few essentials), pets can enjoy their senior years without age-related illness or injury.
Pets age faster than we do, but they don’t all age at the same rate. Depending on your pet’s species, breed, weight, and medical history, they may enjoy a longer period of great health before facing the effects of aging set in.
That said, we recognize pets as “seniors” around age 7. At this point in their lives, senior pets should be seen twice a year. This increase helps us thwart developing age-related illness, or detect problems well before they complicate well-being. Since senior pets are well-versed in hiding obvious symptoms, the opportunity to examine and test them twice a year can save a great deal of time and money.
Assessing Senior Changes
Many senior pets continue to enjoy full, active lifestyles for many years. However, as they age, common illnesses and injuries can impact how they behave or what they’re interested in. If you ever notice the following symptoms, it’s time to address their changing needs:
- Labored breathing after minimal exercise
- Increased thirst
- Increased or inappropriate urination accompanied with pain
- Decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Stiffness in the legs or joints
- Confusion, withdrawal, clinginess, anxiety, and stressed appearance
- Lumps or bumps
- Pain (watch for limping, persistent licking, restlessness, drooling and any other uncharacteristic behaviors)
Senior Pet Wellness Exams
A huge part of senior pet care is the chance to build off the strong foundation established in a pet’s younger years. If we’ve had the privilege of knowing your pet throughout their lives, we have healthy baselines for future comparisons. Normal baselines help us understand any changes to your senior pet’s health, and provide the chance to monitor and measure subtle shifts long before they cause significant damage.
In addition to a thorough nose-to-tail exam, several diagnostic tests help us understand more about what’s happening inside a pet’s body. Comparing current results with previous values can provide critical insight. If infection is discovered, or a pet needs pain management, we can fill prescriptions on-site.
The More We Know, The Better
A CBC (Complete Blood Count) checks the blood cells for any abnormalities. We may also run a chemistry panel to address the health of the kidneys, liver, and pancreas. Urinalysis results can prevent long-lasting problems in the bladder, urinary tract, and kidneys if issues are caught early on. Thyroid tests can also reveal serious problems that benefit from prompt intervention.
A Word About Weight
We check your pet’s weight at every visit and make notes about any changes. Because added weight can lead to diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and arthritis, we take every precaution to ensure that your senior pet remains at a healthy weight.
A majority of pets over the age of 3 have signs of periodontal (gum) disease. Dental care is important throughout a pet’s life, but if an older pet has never had a routine cleaning, they may be suffering from the painful effects of receding gums, broken or lost teeth, or systemic illness. While irreversible, periodontal disease can be managed in senior pets and we’re happy to help address your pet’s needs.
Wellness Plans for Senior Pets
To ensure that your senior pet receives the routine care and services they need, we offer Wellness Plans for Senior Pets. This plan is designed to keep owners engaged with changing needs of aging pets, while delivering affordable services meant to support long-term health. For example, we discount routine blood work for pets under their wellness plan, and include up to four office visits per year.