At Arrowhead Animal Hospital, we are dedicated to providing excellent patient care to pets of all ages.
Our veterinarians develop customized senior pet wellness plans to ensure the best health for older dogs and cats in the Westminster, CO area. We consider any pets over seven years old to be “senior-aged” pets. At this stage in their life, dogs and cats become more susceptible to developing health issues, making routine veterinary visits more important as they age.
Dog Years VS Human Years
7 dog years = 44 – 56 years
10 dog years = 56 – 78 years
15 dog years = 76 – 115 years
20 dog years = 96 – 120 years
Cat Years VS Human Years
7 cat years = 54 years
10 cat years = 63 years
15 cat years = 78 years
20 cat years = 97 years
Routine Veterinary Visits for Seniors
Because pets age much quicker than humans, they become more susceptible to health issues at a younger age. Advances in veterinary medicine have made it possible for our beloved dogs and cats to live longer; however, an increased lifespan comes with an increase in potential ailments. As pets age, their routine examinations become more important than ever, allowing the veterinarian to detect the onset or progress of potential disease and provide a treatment plan as soon as possible.
Some of the most common health issues among senior pets include:
- Weight and mobility changes
- Kidney, heart, and liver disease
- Tumors and cancers
- Hormone disorders (ie. diabetes, thyroid imbalance)
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends that senior pets have a routine physical exam and laboratory testing at least every six months to stay current with their care. Our veterinarians utilize laboratory results to better understand the status of your pet’s health and interpret certain values that give insight into your pet’s organ function. Consistent and routine testing is important for detecting any abnormalities and significant changes from previous test results.
Arrowhead Animal Hospital is equipped to perform and interpret the following recommended tests:
- Complete Blood Count This common test measures the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in a given sample of blood. The numbers and types of these cells give the veterinarian information needed to help diagnose anemia, infections and leukemia. A complete blood count also helps your veterinarian monitor your pet’s response to some treatments.
- Urinalysis Laboratory analysis of urine is a tool used to detect the presence of one or more specific substances that normally do not appear in urine, such as protein, sugar, white blood cells or blood. A measurement of the dilution or concentration of urine is also helpful in diagnosing diseases. Urinalysis can assist the veterinarian in the diagnosis of urinary-tract infections, diabetes, dehydration, kidney problems and many other conditions.
- Blood-Chemistry Panel Blood-chemistry panels measure electrolytes, enzymes and chemical elements such as calcium and phosphorous. This information helps your veterinarian determine how various organs, such as the kidneys, pancreas, and liver, are currently functioning. The results of these tests help your veterinarian formulate an accurate diagnosis, prescribe proper therapy, and monitor the response to treatment. Further testing may be recommended based on the results of these tests.
- Parasite Evaluation Microscopic examination of your pet’s feces can provide information about many different kinds of diseases, such as difficulties with digestion, internal bleeding, and disorders of the pancreas. Most importantly, though, this test confirms the presence of intestinal parasites, such as roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, tapeworm and giardia.
Your veterinarian may also recommend additional testing, depending on the results of your pet’s physical examination. Other tests may include heartworm testing, feline leukemia/immunodeficiency virus test, hyperthyroidism blood testing, blood pressure evaluation, imaging (such as X-rays, ultrasound, and echocardiography), and more.
Signs of Aging in Dogs and Cats
Signs of aging in pets are similar to what we may see in humans. You may start to see your senior dog or cat have a slower response to stimuli, or dulled senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell). Keeping your pet active through exercise and other physical and mental stimulation, like training, can help to slow down the loss of their sensory perception and keep them feeling younger for longer.
Physical changes in aging pets are often easier to detect than sensory changes. If you notice any significant changes in your pet’s behavior or physical condition, it is important to consult your veterinarian as older pets often respond slower to infection and have a longer healing process. Some physical signs of aging include inappropriate elimination, reluctance to exercise, stiffness, or limping.
Though your older pet may begin to slow down, frequent and consistent exercise is just as important for them as it is for younger pets. Routine activity keeps your pet mentally and physically stimulated, optimizing their overall health and well-being. If your pet is experiencing arthritis or other painful symptoms, however, exercise should be limited. Speak with your veterinarian for their recommendations on keeping your pet active in their later years.