Animal Medical Clinic - St. Paul


If Your Pet Is Older Than Seven Please Read

In today's world, pets are living longer. We grow to depend on our pets and treat them as family. Not only are our pets are living longer but new technology is being developed that allows earlier diagnosis and treatment of common health problems. Older pets can experience changes similar to the changes that older humans face.

THE MOST COMMON MEDICAL PROBLEMS OF OLDER PETS ARE:

  • OBESITY
  • DENTAL DISEASE
  • ARTHRITIS
  • LOSS OF SENSES- EYESIGHT OR HEARING
  • CANCER
  • ORGAN DISEASE OR FAILURE
  • THYROID PROBLEMS
  • DIABETES

Some of these problems can be detected early with a good physical exam and routine laboratory tests. As pets age it may be important to have an exam twice yearly to monitor the changes, these exams are a great time to bring up any questions or concerns that you have about your pets health to your veterinarian. There are new treatments and ideas emerging every day that may improve your pets quality of life even more. For example, there are numerous medications that can help relieve the pain associated with arthritis.

Although each pet ages at a different rate, we have set the age of seven to be when a pet is considered senior. We recommend that senior pets have physical exams and screening laboratory tests to detect some of the common problems before it becomes an even bigger problem for your pet.

There are 5 most common tests that your veterinarian may use to evaluate your pet.

1. CBC (Complete Blood Count): This is a blood test which looks for anemia, infection, and inflammation. It evaluates the number and types of cells circulating in the bloodstream. The white blood cells (WBCs) are the first cells that fight infection or inflammation in the body. The red blood cells (RBCs) carry oxygen to tissues.

2. Chemistry Panel: This is a blood test, which can help assess liver, kidney, and pancreas function, and blood sugar levels. It also can evaluate electrolyte levels, which keep the water balance of the body in check. Deficiencies or excesses can make your pet feel sick.

3. Thyroid Function Tests: This is a blood test which helps diagnose problems with the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone) is a common problem in dogs, whereas hyperthyroidism (high thyroid hormone) is a common problem in cats.

4. Urinalysis: This is a urine test which looks at the function and health of the urinary tract. It can be used along with the chemistry screen to detect early kidney problems. We test urine for the presence of blood, blood sugar, protein, WBC, other cells, bacteria, and crystals.

5. Parasite Exam: A stool sample can be examined for the presence of hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, coccidia, and giardia. A blood sample can be tested for heartworm disease. Other blood parasites that can be detected on a CBC such as hemobartonella and babesia.

This diagnostic testing may reveal early problems but it also gives your veterinarian a good baseline for comparison to future labwork. If your pet is older than seven, be sure to ask your veterinarian about a Senior Screening Program.