As your pet ages, you may see signs of them slowing down. They may have difficulty jumping on the bed or sofa, have a reduced appetite or may not be as active as they once were. Much like when humans age, an elderly pet may require more time and attention to ensure they remain healthy.
At Old Mill Veterinary Hospital, we can help you provide optimal care for your pet during their golden years through our senior pet wellness exams.
Why Are Senior Wellness Exams Important for My Pet?
Your pet probably sees their veterinarian at least once a year for their general wellness exam. Even healthy pets benefit from these regular visits. However, older cats and dogs may need more frequent attention than annual exams. These appointments are senior pets are essential for:
Paying Close Attention to Your Pet’s Condition
Aging affects animals just as much as humans. As dogs and cats age, they can develop issues with their vision and heart or experience changes in their behavior. Senior pets are also at an increased risk of cancer, hormonal problems and conditions that affect their organs. However, many pets can hide signs of illness and disease.
Senior wellness exams allow our veterinarian team to look at your pet’s overall health. Since your pet will already have a health baseline, we can use this information to catch any changes in your pet’s health and provide preventive treatment. If you’ve noticed changes and have nonurgent concerns, these visits are the perfect time to discuss them with your veterinarian.
Enhancing Longevity and Quality of Life
Older pets are at a greater risk for decreased immune system function, making regular wellness checks vital. If our team has any concerns during your pet’s visit, we will order a blood or urine test to find and treat potential issues. Often, wellness exams catch age-related conditions and other health issues before your pet shows severe symptoms and the disease causes further damage. Early diagnosis enables us to take a proactive approach to your pet’s care.
Early diagnosis and preventive medicine can keep your pet happy and healthy, extending the time you have to make memories with them.
What to Expect at a Wellness Exam
To ensure your senior pet is as healthy and comfortable as possible, we recommend scheduling a wellness exam at least twice a year. Unlike wellness exams for younger pets, elder pet wellness exams often address pain management. Whether your dog is facing new or chronic pain, our team will establish a plan to treat the causes if possible and keep your pet’s pain levels at a minimum.
Whether your furry friend is a senior cat or dog, we’ll use their wellness exam to:
- Update their medical history and discuss any new or ongoing concerns.
- Complete a physical exam that addresses everything from your pet’s teeth and eyes to their joints and coat.
- Perform laboratory testing to screen for age-related and breed-specific health issues, as well as common issues like diabetes and kidney disease.
- Ensure your pet is up to date on all necessary vaccines and free of parasites.
Protecting Your Senior Pet’s Health
Even if your senior dog is healthy, wellness visits are essential to ensure they continue feeling their best.
Creating a Nutrition Plan
As your pet ages, they may gain or lose weight, potentially providing information about their health. When your pet visits our office, we will determine whether your pet is over- or underweight and diagnose any underlying causes of their weight gain or loss.
Diet becomes even more vital to ensure your pet is happy and healthy as they age. During your visit, our veterinary team will discuss senior feeding plans and meal options to ensure your pet continues to get the nutrients they need.
Providing Dental Care and Administering Vaccines
Certain types of care may be easy to overlook, but keeping your pet’s teeth healthy and preventing contagious diseases are essential for longevity.
While dental issues cause pain, they can also be sources of infection and related diseases. Regular cleanings are essential for your pet’s oral and overall health.
Vaccines are essential for preventing disease, especially when your pet’s immune system weakens. Wellness exams are a great time to administer booster shots because these appointments usually occur when your pet is healthy. We can also discuss the possibility of non-core vaccinations, depending on your pet’s health and whether you plan on boarding them or bringing them to doggy daycare.
Completing Lab Work
Lab work provides information about your pet’s health that we cannot ascertain through a physical exam. Our senior pet wellness testing includes:
- A biochemistry profile: A biochemistry profile provides greater insight into your pet’s tissues and organs to detect kidney disease, diabetes and other health concerns. If we see any minor abnormalities, we may repeat the tests to verify any findings or perform a diagnostic workup.
- Thyroid testing: The thyroid gland determines the entire body’s metabolic rate. As pets age, they may be at higher risk for hypothyroidism, so we test its function to ensure your pet remains healthy.
- Urinalysis: Urinalysis tests the kidneys’ function and catches infections. A urinalysis test is essential for senior pets at higher risk of kidney disease.
- Complete blood count (CBC): The CBC test documents the size, number and shape of white and red blood cells and platelets in your pet’s blood and detects abnormalities. This routine test can also identify diseases for faster and more effective treatment.
Performing Preventive Care
Preventive medicine relies on catching health issues quickly. With an early diagnosis, we can treat or manage several age-related and general health issues. We’ll use our findings from your pet’s physical exam and lab work to create a care plan to keep them healthy and happy throughout their golden years.
Parasites can affect your pet at any age. Prevention is essential when your senior pet’s immune system is not as strong as it was. Our team can deworm cats and dogs and discuss preventive measures. Without parasites, your furry friend can absorb more nutrients from their food and use more energy to make memories with you.
Help Your Senior Pet Feel Their Best With Old Mill Veterinary Hospital
Caring for your aging pet is easy with the dedicated team at Old Mill Veterinary Hospital. We proudly serve pets of all ages in Leesburg, and we look forward to caring for your senior pet. Call our office at (703) 779-2903 to schedule an appointment today!