It can be hard to admit when we see the signs of old age in our animal companions, but the fact is, most dogs are considered seniors when they hit seven, cats around nine. Pets age much more rapidly than humans, which means diseases and illnesses progress more quickly as well.
To ensure your pet has the longest, healthiest, most comfortable life possible, Aldie Veterinary Hospital encourages you to bring your senior pet for exams and blood tests twice each year. This way, we can track how your pet is aging, and we’ll be more likely to catch any developing diseases before they’re big problems.
Blood tests are one of the most important parts of a senior exam. These blood screenings—often referred to as a “senior panel”— monitor red and white blood cell counts and reveal how well the kidney, liver, pancreas, and thyroid are functioning. Your vet may recommend a chest x-ray to ensure that the heart is a normal size and there are no masses in the lungs.
Periodontal disease is always a threat to our pets’ health and comfort, and it’s particularly tough on older pets. That’s why a dental exam is part of any senior pet screening as well.
Finally, make sure to let your vet know about any behavior changes in your pet. Once dogs and cats get to the geriatric stage, monitoring for signs of cognitive dysfunction—such as losing housebreaking, getting lost or wandering aimlessly—is very important.