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As dogs and cats age, they develop increased risk for many illnesses. These are caused by deterioration of organs or tissues, chronic inflammation of tissues, and abnormal growths or tumors. Some examples include anemia, arthritis, diabetes, kidney or liver disease, adrenal gland or thyroid problems, heart disease, skin problems, and dental or digestive problems.
The age at which these changes occur is variable, with small dogs and cats usually entering their senior years later than larger dogs. However, in any size dog or cat, these problems may begin to develop by the age of six years. Early detection improves response to treatment and quality of life for the patient.
In order to recognize these potential problems early, before they become debilitating, we recommend the following (in addition to the routine annual exams, vaccinations, and parasite control) for patients over six years:
Physical Exam every 6 months
Blood Test annually:
Complete Blood Count
Blood Chemistry Profile
Thyroid Hormone Levels
Important signs to recognize at home are changes in:
2. water consumption
3. urination and bowel habits
4. activity and mobility
5. behavior and temperament
6. weight or body condition
7. skin and hair coat
Additional tests may be recommended if abnormalities are found, or if a patient is a breed pre-disposed to specific diseases. These may include:
2. Chest X-ray
3. Hip/Spine X-ray
4. Cardiac or Abdominal Ultrasound
Dental care is important for all pets, and is increasingly important as pets age. Dental disease can be painful, as well as affecting other internal organs, such as kidneys and heart valves.
Diet requirements may change as a dog or cat gets older. Many senior pets will benefit from reduced levels of protein, phosphorus, sodium, and calories, with increased anti-oxidants and glucosamine/chondroitin supplements. Eukanuba Senior Plus® is an ideal diet for these patients. Others may need increased calories, reduced carbohydrates, specific reductions or supplements of various minerals, or diets formulated to reduce risk of bladder stones.
Senior Pet Questionnaire
General appearance: weight Increased? Decreased? Same? Unknown ?
Change in body shape? haircoat? eyes?
Is water consumption Increased? Decreased? Same? Unknown ?
Estimated amount per day?_______
Urination: frequency Increased? Decreased? Same? Unknown ?
amount Increased? Decreased? Same? Unknown ?
any leaking/dribbling? other accidents? straining? blood?
Appetite: Increased? Decreased? Same? Unknown ?
Finicky? Food intolerances? Difficulty chewing or swallowing?
Drooling? Eating inappropriate things?
Defecation: frequency Increased? Decreased? Same? Unknown ?
Amount Increased Decreased Same Unknown ?
Changes in color/consistency? straining? accidents?
Blood or mucus?
Mobility: overall activity level Increased? Decreased? Same? Unknown ?
Difficulty rising? Stairs? Worse or better after exercise?
Tires quickly? favoring 1 or more legs?
Behavior: changes in sleep patterns? Trouble recognizing owners?
Disorientation? Irritability? Habitual or repeated behaviors?
Any other changes or problems we can address?