- Servicesmore ↓
- Patient Informationmore ↓
- Contact Usmore ↓
- About Usmore ↓
- Pet Portal
- Resourcesmore ↓
Older pets have special health needs and may require more attention and care than younger pets. As your pet ages, changes occur in his physical condition that warrant more frequent visits to the veterinarian. If medical problems are recognized and treated when they are first detected, the treatment may be easier for your pet and less costly for you. In order to diagnose medical problems in their early stage, twice-a-year wellness examinations are recommended for older dogs and cats.
A baseline senior wellness examination should be performed so it can be used as a benchmark for measuring changes in your pet as he ages. A geriatric exam is more extensive than a simple check-up and includes a complete physical exam, oral and rectal examinations, and recording of body weight and body condition. Your veterinarian also examines your pet's ears, eyes, and various internal organs. Some laboratory work may be done, including a complete blood count, urinalysis, fecal exam, and perhaps endocrine blood tests and other complementary examinations.
At Plainfield Animal Hospital, we recommend all dogs and cats over 7 years of age have a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile and T4 (thyroid hormone screening) performed annually at the time of their yearly physical examination. This is the cornerstone of preventive medicine and is intended to uncover occult or "hidden" problems before they manifest.
Even if your pet seems perfectly healthy, regular geriatric check-ups are important to manage many of the changes associated with aging. Dogs and cats over seven years of age should be examined by a veterinarian twice a year.
A complete geriatric health maintenance program can provide a means to target age-related health problems, institute preventive health care measures, and detect any disorders early enough to provide the appropriate medical attention. This program also educates you, the pet owner, on health risks to your older pet and provides information about preventive procedures for maintaining a healthy pet.
All of these components as well as following your veterinarian's recommendations for exercise, administration of any medication, and a proper diet are essential to the health and quality of life of your older pet.
The aging process varies between species and specific breeds as well as individual animals. For example, a giant breed dog might be a senior at five years of age and a toy breed not until years later. Most cats become seniors slightly later than dogs, between their eighth and tenth year. As an arbitrary guide, owners should start to consider age-related issues at 7 years in dogs and cats.
As dogs and cats grow older, their organs may become less efficient and they may be less able to resist infections and other diseases. As a responsible pet owner, you want your pet to remain healthy and active for as long as possible so you should be aware of any condition that might need your veterinarian's attention.
Signs of illness include: