Senior Pet Wellness Requires Diligence!
As your dog enters the senior years, wellness examinations are more important than ever, needed to catch and delay the onset or progress of disease and for the early detection of problems such as organ failure and osteoarthritis. AAHA recommends that healthy senior dogs visit the veterinarian every six months for a complete exam and laboratory testing.
During the senior wellness exam at Tropicana Animal Hospital, your veterinarian will ask you a series of questions regarding any changes in your aging pet's activity and behavior, and conduct a complete examination of all of your pet's body systems. Client education and laboratory testing are also key components of our senior exam.
Some Issues Surrounding Aging
- Sensory changes—With the senior years comes a general "slowing down" in dogs. As their major senses-sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell—dull, you may notice a slower response to general external stimuli. In addition, your dog may also begin to confront age—related cognitive and behavior changes. The best remedy is to keep your mature dog active—playing and training are excellent ways to keep senses sharp.
- Physical changes—As the body wears out, its ability to respond to infection is reduced, and the healing process takes longer. Therefore, it is crucial to consult a veterinarian if you notice a significant change in behavior or the physical condition of your pet. A very common and frustrating problem for aging pets is inappropriate elimination. Your once well-behaved dog may have trouble controlling his bathroom habits. In addition, excessive urination or incontinence may be indicative of diabetes or kidney failure, both of which are treatable if caught early.
- Nutrition and exercise—Obesity in dogs is often the result of reduced exercise and overfeeding, a risk factor for problems such as heart disease. Review our Weight Management and Nutrition program for more information.
- Pain management—Pets experience pain just like humans do, and we take steps to identify, prevent, and minimize pain in all senior dogs. The AAHA guidelines encourage veterinarians to use pain assessment as the fourth vital sign (along with temperature, pulse, and respiration). For more information, see their article on Pain Management for Pets.
- Hospice and euthanasia services—Saying goodbye to a long-time friend is painful. At Tropicana Animal Hospital, we work with you to ensure your senior dog faces the end in comfort and dignity. Our services are guided by your wishes, include caring for the remains in the way you choose.
To help ensure your dog lives comfortably during the senior life stage, it's critical to work with your veterinarian to tailor a senior wellness plan that works for you. Remember to monitor behavior and physical conditions and report anything unusual to your veterinarian, who can help transition your canine companion into the twilight years with ease.