As pets age, stress upon vital internal organs is likely to become more serious. Vitamin requirements generally increase, and nutritional needs differ greatly from those of younger pets. Sources of chronic infection, such as tooth and gum disease, can adversely affect internal organs and contribute to failing health. Aging also increases the risks of arthritis, disk disease, and other skeletal problems. Many of these problems are readily detectable and can be controlled if diagnosed early and treated properly.
As pets approach the “Senior Years,” it is the time to become more concerned with the early diagnosis and detection of internal problems that are not readily apparent on routine physical examination. As an example, without appropriate screening, we would not be able to diagnose diabetes, liver or kidney disease, bladder problems, or other serious problems like heart disease. Unfortunately, these problems are in the very advanced stages before clinical signs can be observed. Much damage is already done.
Just as there is a major emphasis on human wellness programs, veterinary medicine now offers the same for our pet family members. We care about your pet’s quality of life as much as you do, and we want your pet to live as long as possible without unnecessary suffering or illness. We also recognize that it is much less costly for owners when problems are detected early and treatment instituted then rather than waiting for many of these aging problems to cause severe, irreversible damage.
Your pet has reached its “senior years” once it has reached the following ages:
• Small Dogs (under 20 lbs.) 9 – 13 Years
• Medium Dogs (21-50 lbs.) 9 – 11.5 Years
• Large Dogs (51-90 lbs.) 7.5 – 10.5 Years
• Giant Dogs (Over 90 lbs.) 6 – 9 Years
• Most Cats 8 – 10 Years
• Rabbits 3 Years
• Ferrets 2 Years
PETS CANNOT TALK AND HIDE PROBLEMS WELL:
Physical examination can only detect diseases that produce clinical signs. However, recent advances in diagnostic blood screening, ECG screening, and glaucoma screening now make it possible to detect many aging conditions long before clinical signs are present. When problems such as kidney disease, liver disease, heart disease, thyroid abnormalities, anemia, diabetes, and glaucoma can be caught early, the appropriate steps can be taken (such as dietary changes or medications) to either reverse the problem or at least slow it down. We can now become PROACTIVE rather than reactive to make recommendations to provide the best life possible for your pet.
THE OBJECTIVE OF OUR SENIOR WELLNESS PROGRAM:
Is to make pets feel their best and have the longest, productive and useful life. There is nothing that can prevent aging, but there are many things that can be done to slow down the process and/or make the pet much more comfortable. Our senior wellness program will stress:
• Early detection of developing conditions.
• Preventive maintenance to decrease chances of problems developing.
• Diet and exercise management recommendations.
• Problem management of existing conditions.
COMPONENTS OF OUR RECOMMENDED SENIOR PET WELLNESS PROGRAM:
• Semi-Annual Comprehensive Physical Examination
• Appropriate Annual Vaccination Boosters
• Distemper, Adenovirus
• Canine Parvovirus
• Bordetella Bronchitis
• Canine Influenza
• Rabies (3 year)
• Heartworm Test
• Feline Distemper & Respiratory Complex
• Feline Leukemia
• Internal Parasite Fecal Examination
• Heartworm Preventive used All Year Long (Both dogs and cats)
• Annual Comprehensive Dental Examination
• Dental Scaling & polishing As Needed. Use the recommended pet dentifrice for your specific pet. Keeping your pet’s teeth clean can add 2 years to its life.
• Thyroid Testing
• CBC (Complete Blood Count)
• Blood Chemistry Profile Screening
• Screening Single Lead ECG
• Glaucoma Screening
• Appropriate Medications To Minimize Effects Of Aging
• Daily Exercise
• Feed A High Quality Diet Designed For Senior Pets.
• Prevent Obesity.
• Provide Vitamin & Trace Mineral Supplementation
• Appropriate Bathing & Grooming
Depending on specific findings from above testing, additional screening procedures may be indicated:
• Multi-Lead Electrocardiogram
• Chest / Abdominal Radiographs
• Follow-Up Recheck Tests
These senior pet wellness tests helps establish baseline values and identify problems early, thus increase the safety by reducing the risks of unknowns if and when any future anesthesia is required.
We feel this senior pet wellness screening is essential for your pet’s best quality of life. Each year of a pet’s life represents 5-10% of it’s total life span. Performing these procedures once each year is the same as once every 5-7 years for a senior adult person.
The older pet requires far fewer calories, lower fat, higher fiber, and controlled levels of calcium, sodium, and phosphorous. Being overweight is a real problem for the older, less active pet. It greatly increases stress on joints, heart & lungs, and other internal organs. Increased fiber and proper amounts of calcium, sodium, and phosphorous aid in digestion and prevent heart, bone, and kidney disease.
PREVENTIVE HEALTH CARE & DENTISTRY:
The natural resistance to disease is significantly reduced in the older pet. It is very important that all vaccinations, internal parasite exams, and comprehensive physical exams be done promptly. Mouth infections and periodontal disease are quite common in the older pet. Regular dental exams and cleanings when needed help to maintain strong, healthy teeth and prevent mouth infections from spreading to the kidney and heart.
EARLY DETECTION OF POTENTIAL PROBLEMS:
Since pets can not tell us when something is wrong, many problems go undetected in the early stages because the changes are so subtle no outward physical signs are visible. Routine comprehensive physical exams, laboratory screening procedures, and ECG screening can often pick up these changes early when they are much easier to treat and manage.
THE PAIN OF AGING:
As pets age many parts of the body begins to show wear and tear. The aging process brings many changes that affect a pet’s ability to take part in normal daily activities. This can result in internal organs that no longer function at peak capacity and pain as bones begin to thin and arthritis sets in. Pets have nerve feelings too! Any condition that causes pain in humans also causes pain in animals.
Not only does pain hurt, it also can further debilitate older pets potentially resulting in further injury or other problems. Pain also can affect the pet’s behavior. Behavioral changes can range from depression to aggression. Chronic pain can lead to inappropriate elimination problems (loss of housetraining), as well as changes in frequency of urination and defecation. Pain often times decreases activity compounding problems that come from a lack of exercise.
Certain drugs are available that are building blocks for the production of joint fluid and the cartilage lining of all bones. The articular cartilage provides a smooth, low friction surface between bone ends providing a cushion as the physical weight is transferred from one bone to the next. These drugs are available in an injectable form (Adequan™) and in capsule form (Cosequin™). Initially we use an injection twice per week for 4 weeks and then as often as needed. If capsules are used, they must be used daily.
Most pet owners fail to realize that pet’s age more rapidly than humans, and the appearance of aging problems may be both unexpected and distressing. The GOAL of our SENIOR PET WELLNESS PROGRAM is to make the pets FEEL BETTER and HAVE THE LONGEST PRODUCTIVE, USEFUL LIFE possible. Although there are no cures for aging, there are many problems that can be prevented, minimized, or at least slowed down if they are caught early.
PET’S RELATIVE AGE CHART:
Pet’s Age = People Years
1 Year = 15 Years
2 Years = 23 Years
3 Years = 27 Years
4 Years = 31 Years
5 Years = 35 Years
6 Years = 39 Years
8 Years = 47 Years
10 Years = 56 Years
12 Years = 65 Years
14 Years = 75 Years
16 Years = 86 Years
18 Years = 98 Years