As our companion friends age, they become prone to more medical problems, much like their human counterparts. It becomes really important during these senior years to pay more attention to changes that may clue us into signs of illness. Some illnesses are abrupt in onset and hence very obvious. Others are slow to set in and may not have obvious signs for an owner to pick up on. It is because of these types of illness that it is very important to bring your senior pet in for a full annual physical exam and diagnostic blood screening.
Screening tests have many advantages for your companion pet. It can allow early intervention in cases of kidney disease, a common ailment in aging pets. By detecting early stage kidney disease, the appropriate dietary modifications can be recommended for your pet that have been demonstrated to decrease episodes of illness and increase your pet's life expectancy. Too often, we see pets in a crisis from kidney failure when the disease process has gone on for too long. This is heartbreaking for both the the veterinary staff and the owner.
There are many other illnesses that can be detected and treated through diagnostic blood screening. Before an owner is aware there is even a problem, senior cats can develop hyperthyroidism, a disease that cause damage to the heart, liver or kidneys. Senior dogs can also develop hypothyroidism which can lead to chronic skin disease and poor quality of life.
You may be asking yourself, “At what age is my pet considered a senior?" The American Animal Hospital Association defines senior dogs as over 7 to 8 years of age and senior cats as over 10 to 14 years of age. Use these age ranges as general guideline to help you determine when your pet should start having senior diagnostic blood screening.
If you have any questions about any of your pets, please do feel free to call our WMAC team at 808.662.0099.
~ Blog contribution from our parnter clinic's Dr. Michael King, DVM, Central Maui Animal Clinic