Today, people live longer, healthier lives than they typically did even a generation ago. In large part that's due to a better understanding of the importance of factors that can influence aging, such as preventative health care, exercise and nutrition. Similarly, the dogs and cats that make up such an important part of our lives are also living longer, healthier lives.
We are observing that a growing number of our patients are canine and feline "senior citizens." Part of the reason that pets are able to live longer now than a few years ago, is the tremendous advances that have occurred in veterinary medicine. A greater knowledge of diseases, diagnostic procedures, and treatments are available to us today. Perhaps the greatest reason why animals live longer, better lives, is the increased knowledge that the pet owners have about the importance of preventive health care measures—immunization, parasite control, spaying and neutering, and early disease detection, to name a few.
As dogs and cats age, they, like people, have a greater risk for developing certain diseases and conditions. For example, we know that the incidence of problems, such as heart disease, kidney disease, malignant and benign tumors, arthritis, loss of vision, and oral/dental disease increases with advancing age. However, when such conditions are diagnosed in their early stages, treatment to cure such disorders or delay their progress can be given in most cases.
For that reason, we recommend that all of our dog and cat patients that are 7 years of age or older, have an annual geriatric evaluation. This evaluation includes a thorough and complete physical examination, a complete blood count, blood chemistry profile, urinalysis, and radiography. When the evaluation is complete and all the tests have been received, we will discuss the findings with you, and advise you of any needed treatment or change in diet.
Just as when people have an annual physical, in most cases the results are normal. Even then, it's good to know that everything is "all right" and the evaluation provides valuable "baseline data" on which to compare future results. If a condition is revealed, you know it has been discovered as early as possible and treatment can be started. Importantly, we can work with you to insure that your pet lives a long, healthy, and happy life. It's the least we can do in return for all the love that our pets give us.
If you have any questions about our senior care evaluation for your pet for now or in the future—please call us anytime during normal practice hours. We look forward to talking with you.