Senior Pet Wellness & Bloodwork
Did you know that, depending on the size, your dog or cat ages about 5-7 times more rapidly than you do? Getting a senior pet wellness exam every year for a large dog is equivalent to an exam every 7 years! Because our pets age differently than we do, it is important to make sure our senior pets who seem healthy on the outside are truly healthy on the inside. The same metabolic changes that occur in us start to happen in our pets as they become geriatric – usually around 7 years old! These changes can bring on disease and organ degeneration. Unfortunately, because of their genetic history as animals vulnerable to predators, our pets tend to hide symptoms of pain and discomfort, so visible symptoms may not occur in your pet until disease is quite advanced, and the pet’s lifespan can be dramatically shortened by that time. Early disease and arthritic changes are also easier and much less expensive to treat or halt than advanced diseases in the long run.
Fortunately, annual (which is really like 5-7 years in between) senior pet wellness exams and blood chemistries can help us detect early stages of disease and monitor for signs of arthritis that may degrade your pet’s happiness and quality of life. Common issues that affect seniors more often are Thyroid malfunction, leukemia, arthritis, kidney disease, and cancer, as well as liver and pancreas problems. The standard senior wellness blood panel includes a comprehensive set of chemistries to check the organ function and to look for trauma, inflammation, and disease, as well as a thyroid test to check for hyper or hypothyroidism, and a urinalysis to check the health of the kidneys and bladder. A fecal test 1-2 times per year is also recommended for parasite detection, especially those that are transmittable to us! Early detection and even healthy bloodwork results are very valuable diagnostic tools because they provide a base for comparison if our pets ever experience a major illness.
In fact, according to studies, more than 75% of common diseases in dogs and over 63% in cats can are preventable with early detection and simple dietary changes over a year long period. In another study by DVM’s David Bruyette and Jennifer Garcia, 23% of dogs and 17% of cats who seemed healthy upon physical exam had underlying disease! Advances in veterinary technology and knowledge have given us the power to return the love and loyalty of our pets with the best care and quality of life possible. Together we can detect and halt suffering from preventable illness and injury and ensure our pets live long, happy lives, because we love our senior pets just as much as when they were puppies and kittens!