- Does your pet have bad breath?
- Does your pet seem to prefer wet over dry food?
- Does your pet seem hesitant to go up and down the stairs?
- Does your pet seem to be slowing down?
- Does your pet cough more than normal or seem to have breathing difficulties?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, please keep reading! How we manage our pets as they age changes. Our pets, just like their human companions have different nutritional, activity and medical requirements as they get older. When your dog approaches 7 years old, it is time to consider modifying their care both at home and at the veterinary hospital.
Once your pet hits 7, we consider it a geriatric patient. It may not sound old, but pets age 7 times faster than humans! If there is nothing that the doctor is individually concerned about, we will typically send out a full panel chemistry and CBC that also includes a urinalysis. This allows us to check your pet’s liver, kidneys and other organs to make sure that everything is functioning as it should be. Doing bloodwork yearly gives us a chance to catch disease way earlier in your pet. Everything can seem normal on the outside but that doesn’t mean that it is running just as smooth on the inside. We want to keep your pet healthy and happy as long as possible for you and for them.
Chest and abdominal radiographs are another way along with bloodwork we can work to catch things earlier. Chest radiographs are not only used to monitor for heart disease, but pulmonary (lung) disease and even to check for the spread (metastasis) of cancer. Our older pets can acquire masses in their abdomen without clinical signs as well so we utilize x-ray for early detection, which can allow for early intervention. We can even use radiographs to see arthritis and bone changes to see the reason behind your pet’s recent lameness or lack of activity. If the doctor suspects that something is abnormal on the radiographs, the next step is an ultrasound so we can get a live look in the abdomen and get a better idea of what is going on. This generally requires your pet to have their abdomen shaved and to be fasted for 12 hours.
Bad breath, drooling or difficulty chewing can be signs of dental disease and oral cancer. Dr. Melanie Wood can check out your pet’s teeth during their physical exam and may request that your pet have a dental. Under anesthesia we can get a greater appreciation of what is going on in the mouth. Under general anesthesia, we can perform prophylactic cleaning of the teeth, oral radiographs and tooth extraction if necessary. By doing dentals once a year, you can prevent your pet from losing their teeth early in life. Smaller breeds tend to have overcrowding and crooked teeth which usually require them to have dental disease much earlier in life. Dental disease isn’t just bad breath, it can also be a major contributor to renal failure, heart disease and other chronic and debilitating illnesses.
Arthritis and mobility
Just as we age, our pets have the same changes in their bodies. They start to slow down, getting up and down isn’t as easy anymore and you notice they aren’t interested in going up and down the stairs anymore. They may have good days and bad for playing outside or if they play too hard one day, the next they are laying down for the entire day because they over did it. Getting your pets on a joint supplement and sometimes anti-inflammatories can help tremendously. Arthritis can be extremely painful if left untreated and can really lower your pet’s quality of life. Laser therapy is another great option for those with pain. Bringing your pet in for an exam can allow Dr. Wood to check and see if Laser treatments would be a great addition to your pet’s treatment plan. This noninvasive laser allows us to treat every part of the animal in treatments that last less than 5 minutes! Starting out a few times a week, pets can be bumped back to a monthly maintenance that can keep them so much more comfortable.