Pets are generally considered seniors when they reach the age of seven, although this can vary some with size and breed. Senior pets, like senior humans, need more visits to the doctor to make sure they stay healthy. In addition to twice yearly exams and annual blood screening, there are several tests that can be performed to make sure you and the veterinary staff are doing all they can to keep your pet healthy and happy for the as long as possible! Any and all of the items listed below may be needed for your pet-talk to your veterinarian about what is recommended for your special senior.
Dietary changes: There are prescription diets available that can assist in treatment with many geriatric diseases. If your pet doesn’t have a specific medical condition then a quality senior diet is the desired choice.
Tonometry: This test evaluates intraocular pressure (the pressure inside the eye). The reason for this test is that many breeds are predisposed to glaucoma-a painful disease where the eye pressure becomes elevated. This test is quick and painless and gives us valuable information about a potentially painful disease process
Chest Radiographs: Radiographs or “x-rays” of the chest will help us evaluate the size and shape of the heart, as well as evaluate the lungs and large airways. This is a very important test for pets with heart murmurs, coughing, or abnormal airway sounds.
Abdominal Radiographs: Radiographs of the abdomen help us interpret abnormal findings on bloodwork or on physical exam. They can help confirm a potential mass or bladder stone among other problems. Often these problems are easier to treat if confirmed early in the course of the disease.
E.C.G.: This test evaluates the electrical activity of the heart as well as any arrhythmias (abnormal rhythm). This test is important in pets with any heart disease and in certain breeds predisposed to cardiac abnormalities.
NSAID Trial: Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs are used in the treatment of arthritis or degenerative joint disease. This is a common disease of older pets and can cause stiffness, reluctance to jump or climb stairs or overall decreased activity. Your pet may be a candidate to try one of these very effective drugs. Note-there are many other therapies for arthritis that I will talk about on a different day.
Urinalysis and ERD: Evaluation of a urine sample can help us get a better picture of the renal system and urinary tract. It can also allow us to pick up on infections, diabetes, and other diseases in conjunction with our blood work.