As pets become older, they face many of the same health challenges that humans do, including weight gain and decreased mobility, heart, kidney, and liver disease, even diabetes.
Proactive veterinary care is especially important for senior pets. For this reason, we recommend that you bring your senior pet in every 6 months for a full wellness exam. By detecting and treating problems early, your pet will be able to live longer, healthier, and happier lives.
At Laurel Park Animal Hospital, we believe strongly in the importance of preventive health care. Our veterinarian and staff have extensive experience with caring for senior pets. We are committed to ensuring all of your older pet’s health needs are met.
Is My Pet a Senior?
Typically, pets are considered to be seniors around the age of 7. Other factors that will affect how individual pets age include body weight, nutrition, environment, and overall health.
If you would like a general idea of how old your pet is considered to be, please click at the appropriate species chart below.
Symptoms to Watch Out For
If you notice your pet exhibiting any of the symptoms below, please be sure to bring them to our attention.
- Behavioral Changes
- Decreased activity
- Less interaction with family members
- Less enthusiastic greeting behavior
- Sleeping more or sleeping during the day and staying awake at night
- Disorientation or confusion
- Less responsive to verbal cues or name
- Excessive barking or meowing or whimpering for no apparent reason
- Metabolic Changes
- Weight gain or loss
- Changes in appearance of the skin, coat, or muscle tone
- Changes in eating or drinking habits
- Increased urination
- Loss of house training or litter box training
- Physical Changes
- Limping or stiffness of gait
- Poor vision or difficulty hearing
- Dental problems (offensive breath)
- Increase in infections
- Digestive problems, such as increased episodes of vomiting or diarrhea
- New lumps or bumps
- Changes in breathing
Proper Preventive Care
Laurel Park Animal Hospital follows the guidelines of the American Animal Hospital Association, which recommends that senior pets have semi-annual wellness exams. During these appointments, the veterinarians will perform a complete “nose to tail” physical exam.
If your pet is exhibiting signs of periodontal disease, we will recommend appropriate pet dental care. This could range from at-home measures, such as brushing your pet’s teeth, using special chews/treats, or a dental rinse-to a professional dental cleaning.
Should your pet experience a noticeable weight change, we will first determine whether there is an underlying medical cause. If one cannot be found, then we will provide nutrition counseling to ensure that your pet is receiving the appropriate nutrients and calories for his or her lifestyle and needs.
At least once each year, we will recommend geriatric comprehensive blood work for your senior pet. These include:
Full serum chemistry profile —This is used to assess the status of the liver, kidneys, and pancreas, as well as other organs.
Complete blood count —This test is helpful in the diagnosis of infection, anemia, and bleeding problems. It can also provide insights into the status of your pet’s immune system.
Thyroid profile —We use this diagnostic tool to examine your pet’s metabolism. Dogs are prone to low thyroid levels, while cats are more likely to have high thyroid levels. In both cases, this can lead to many other pet health problems.
Heartworm Testing – This insures that your patient does not currently have heartworms (which can cause heart failure and eventually death). We can start/continue your pet’s heartworm prevention if the test is negative.
Urinalysis —Testing a urine sample enables us to check for evidence of infection and to assess your pet’s kidney function.