Pet Talk: Biannual senior wellness checks help promote health in aging pets
It’s fall. You notice the leaves changing, the air getting cooler and perhaps your joints are feeling a bit sore. Then, you take note of your old dog, Duke. He’s just a little bit slower getting up. He is drinking a little more water, while his appetite is decreasing. You are beginning to notice your best friend, companion and pet is slowing down, and you ponder what to do about it.
Thankfully, due to many advances in veterinary medicine and nutrition, our pets are living longer than they ever have before. Yet, as our pets age, they are faced with a whole new set of challenges compared to their younger years. That is precisely why it is so important to have your pet seen by your veterinarian, especially as the aging process begins.
Small cats and dogs are considered geriatric around the age of 7; larger breed dogs age faster and are considered geriatric around the age of 6. Similar to humans, pets are prone to developing certain conditions as they age, such as diabetes, arthritis, cancer, heart disease and organ dysfunction. It is also not uncommon for a pet to develop cognitive dysfunction and dulling of the senses, such as hearing and sight.
All this being said, veterinarians now recommend a bi-annual senior wellness check in aging pets in order to stay in tune with any condition that they may be developing. While owners see their dogs every day, sometimes they are less likely to recognize changes in weight, for example, or they don’t notice the muscle wasting in the hind quarters.
Pet Senior Profile
This is where that senior check up comes in, which includes an accurate weight check and good physical examination, as well as a senior profile, which may include blood work, radiographs and a urinalysis, all which can detect early onset of many treatable diseases and ultimately give your pet a longer, more comfortable life, minimizing the discomfort.
In addition, after laboratory and radiographic results are received, many of these senior pets require foods that are catered to their special needs. Senior veterinary diets often have different calorie levels, are more easily digestible and frequently have anti-aging nutrients in them. There are also diets that are specific for arthritic joints that can be very beneficial for your pet.
There is no reason why an aging pet can’t remain a healthy, active part of your family’s life. Have a talk with your veterinarian about what you can do together to be sure they remain healthy and happy.
Dr. Liz Foster is an associate veterinarian at Mountain Mobile Vet and The Animal Hospital Center. She can be reached at 970-328-7085.