Has your furry friend been around the block a few times? Our pets age much more quickly than we do, so after the age of 7, they are considered geriatric or seniors.
Since they age much more quickly, we recommend wellness exams every six months to ensure they are healthy. While this may sound frequent, it is the equivalent of a human visiting the doctor every two to three years.
When you bring your senior pet for an appointment, your veterinarian will do a thorough physical exam to find any abnormalities that need to be addressed. Even if your pet appears healthy on the outside, we recommend routine wellness testing such as bloodwork, urinalysis, and parasite screening to detect early or hidden disease. This lab work can also be used to monitor pets with chronic health conditions. Dogs and cats are good at masking illness, so diseases may be present even in animals that appear healthy. Early detection of disease allows your veterinarian to take steps to correct or manage the problem before permanent damage is done.
We recommend a complete blood count (CBC), chemistry, urinalysis and thyroid level every six months along with a heartworm and tick-borne disease screening for dogs and a heartworm and feline viral test for cats annually. A CBC measures the numbers, size and appearance of different cell types in blood including red blood cells, which carry oxygen; white blood cells that fight infection; and platelets, which are responsible for forming clots. A chemistry gives us information on different enzymes released by the liver, pancreas, kidneys and muscles, as well as electrolyte and blood sugar levels. A urinalysis measures how well the kidneys can concentrate urine, filter out toxins, and can identify inflammation and infection in the urinary tract. It can also be useful to screen for diabetes.
Chronic kidney disease is one of the more common diseases of elderly cats and can be managed best with early detection. A thyroid level is used to monitor the activity of the thyroid, which controls metabolic rate in the body. Older dogs are prone to an underactive thyroid while older cats are prone to an overactive thyroid. Both conditions can have impacts on other body systems and can be managed successfully with medication. Feline viral testing and canine tick-borne disease are important diseases to screen for as the outward signs are often subtle, but these diseases can impact many aspects of your pet’s health.
Wellness screening and lab work are simple and effective ways to keep your senior pets healthy longer. Early detection of disease allows for more effective prevention and management to allow your pets a longer happier life with your family.
The veterinarians of VCA Calvert Veterinary Center have over 35 years of combined experience helping pets stay healthy and happy. Call today for an appointment at 410-360-PAWS (7297) or schedule online from www.vaccalvertvet.com. VCA Calvert Veterinary Center is conveniently located at 4100 Mountain Road and has been proudly serving the Pasadena community for over 15 years.