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When is my pet considered a senior?|
Pets are considered to be senior at around age 7. Like people, however, every animal ages at his or her own rate.
What should change when my pet becomes a senior?
Senior pets need to receive extra care and attention from their owners and veterinarian. It is important to try and catch and prevent wear and tear on your pet's body by providing special nutrition. For more about senior pet nutrition, please read our senior nutrition page.
Senior pets should see the veterinarian more often, so that we can catch any diseases early on when they are easier to treat. We recommend bringing your senior pet in for an exam every six months. Since dogs and cats age 5-7 years for every human year, going a full year without seeing the veterinarian would be like an adult senior going for five years without a checkup! We also recommend regular senior wellness testing to help detect any changes which might be occurring in your pet. Diseases are much easier to treat if they are caught early on. Our pets cannot speak to tell us when they are beginning to feel ill, and in fact they often try to hide illness from their family. By the time their loving owner notices a change in his or her pet, the disease may already be quite advanced. Senior wellness testing helps to notify us before the dog or cat reaches that point.
What does senior wellness testing involve?
A wellness test involves looking at your pet's blood and urine chemistries. First we would take a small sample of blood from your pet and try to collect some urine as well. Then we use the blood sample to check your pet's red blood cell levels (to check for anemia), white blood cell levels (to detect any infection), and the chemistries in the blood which tell us how your pet's organs are functioning. If something is starting to change in your pet's kidneys or liver, a blood test will pick it up long before you or your veterinarian notice any outward changes in your pet. Since an overactive thyroid is a common problem in felines, we also check your cat's thyroid levels by sending some blood away to a special laboratory.
We then check your pet's urine chemistries. Dogs and cats often have urinary tract infections which sometimes go unnoticed by their owners. Other health problems, like kidney disease and diabetes, can be detected in the urine as well.
What if everything is normal?
Congratulations! We keep all of our results in your pet's file. If everything is normal, it gives a great baseline for your pet. That way, if your pet gets sick six months later, we can compare your pet's blood values to what they were six months ago, and see if there has been any change. Veterinarians have a list of "normal" ranges for dogs and cats in general, but only a test performed while your pet was still healthy will give us a much more specific set of numbers for what is normal for your pet.
What sort of medical problems might my senior pet develop?
We are including information on common medical issues found in senior dogs and cats. Please take the time to read more about the following diseases:
Renal Insufficiency/Renal Failure