Caring for a Senior Dog

Your companion is an important member of the family. He or she communicates with you in a way that is quite different from human relationships. While our pets are dependent on us for their physical and emotional needs, they also provide us with many years of unconditional love, support, and protection. As our pets age, they develop health problems that may not be detectable without blood, urine, and other tests. About 30% of our patients will have abnormalities that can only be diagnosed and treated as a result of these tests. In order to do this, we make the following suggestions.

Comprehensive physical exams every 6 months
Your pet ages more quickly than people. Giant dogs are considered to be geriatric at 7 years of age. Larger dogs are considered geriatric at about 8 years, and smaller dogs and cats at about 10 years of age. A checkup every 6 months will allow earlier detection of disease that will improve the quality of life for your animal companion, and allow you the opportunity to discuss the aging process of your pet with your veterinarian. It is common to find that changing the diet or correcting undetected dental issues, for example, will provide an older pet with a more comfortable and longer life.

Laboratory Tests: Blood Panel and Urine Analysis every 6 months
Blood and urine tests are invaluable for our geriatric patients in many different ways. Often older pets are on a variety of medications. Sometimes these tests will detect early side effects of medications on an organ allowing us to adjust the dose or regimen. In addition, these tests can provide us with information that alert us to impending signs of health problems, so that we can suggest lifestyle changes or medical treatment options that may have a profound benefit for your animal friend. And lastly, normal tests can provide us with a baseline by which we can monitor health trends as your pet ages.

Blood pressure measurement every 6-12 months
Just like us, older pets can develop hypertension (high blood pressure) a serious “silent disease”, which can adversely affecting their vision and potentially lead to blindness, heart disease, and organ failure. Hypertension is often linked to other common geriatric diseases such as kidney, heart, and endocrine diseases, and if your pet is diagnosed with one of these conditions, the blood pressure should be checked every 6 months. Hypertension is generally very effectively controlled by diet, medication, herbal remedies, or correcting the underlying cause.

Survey chest and abdominal radiographs every one-two years
The first radiographs can serve as a baseline for future comparison, as well as detect areas in the body that need to be monitored or handled with care. For example, sometimes spondylosis of the spine is found. We can show you where on your pet’s body this degenerative process is occurring, so that you can be more careful of this area. Our digital radiographs can easily be shared with specialists by email or with you at home on your own computer.

Weight check with every exam
Discussing your pet”s weight is an important part of every exam and consultation. Keeping your pettrim and active will allow them to negotiate stairs and furniture well into their old age. Even moderate weight gain has been linked with arthritis, liver problems, diabetes, constipation, as well as a shorter life span.

Diet Changes
Prescription Diet® b/d® Canine dog food is formulated to help fight age-related behavior changes in older dogs. Click here for more information.