Older pets have special health needs and may require more attention and care than younger pets. As your pet ages, changes occur in his physical condition warrant more frequent visits to the veterinarian. If medical problems are recognized and treated when they are first detected, the treatment may be easier for your pet and less costly for you. In order to diagnose medical problems in their early stage, twice-a-year wellness examinations are recommended for older dogs and cats.
A baseline senior pet care wellness examination should be performed so it can be used as a benchmark for measuring changes in your pet as he ages. A geriatric exam for your cat or dog is more extensive than a simple check-up and includes a complete physical exam, oral and rectal examinations and recording of body weight and body condition. Your veterinarian also examines your pet's ears, eyes, and various internal organs. Some laboratory work may be done, including a complete blood count, urinalysis, fecal exam, and perhaps endocrine blood tests and other complementary examinations.
At Randolph Animal Hospital, we have implemented a new program for our senior patients. Senior patients require specialized care and we would like to help you take the best care possible of your elderly pets. Here is a summary of the Senior Wellness Program, what it entails, and why this is the recommended treatment plan.
Our Senior Wellness Package for consists of a routine physical exam every 6 months and a full blood and urine screen at the time of exam. Six months in the life of a senior pet is equivalent to years in a human. These two exams are performed when the pet is healthy. It is very important to see the pet when he/she is healthy so that we can see what is happening under normal circumstances.
Blood Chemistry - This is an overall screen of organ function (including kidney, liver, and pancreas) to detect if there are early signs of organ failure or altered function. If normal, this provides a baseline value for your pet's normal function. If abnormal, this blood work provides the doctor with a comparison and helps to make the best decision in terms of care and treatment.
Complete Blood Count - This test looks at the red and white blood cells as well as the platelets. This helps the doctor to diagnose conditions such as anemia, hidden infection, and leukemia. It is also used to monitor a pet's response to treatment.
Urinalysis - This test detects the presence of abnormal substances in the urine (such as protein, blood, glucose, crystals and bacteria). Also, we can see the concentration of the urine to ensure that the pet is producing urine appropriately. Urinalysis aids in the diagnosis of urinary tract infection, diabetes, dehydration, and kidney problems.
Thyroid - This test specifically detects abnormalities in the function of the thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism (increase in thyroid function) in cats and Hypothyroidism (decrease in thyroid function) in dogs are extremely common in senior pets.
Blood Pressure - This test is included only for cats. Hypertension is very common in senior cats and can contribute to other medical problems.
Overall Appearance - The doctor will look at the eyes, ears, mouth, and skin to detect physical abnormalities.
Heart and Lungs - The doctor listens to the chest to hear both the heart and lungs. The doctor can detect murmurs and arrhythmias of the heart, as well as obtain the heart-rate. The doctor listens to the lungs to determine the respiration rate and listens for signs of congestion.
Abnormal Palpation - The doctor feels the abdomen to detect signs of pain, and to feel organ size. In many cases, the doctor can feel abnormalities in the organ structure before symptoms of organ malfunction are seen.
Rectal Exam - The doctor looks at the rectum to detect abnormalities on the surface. The doctor can also do a rectal exam to feel the prostate (in males) and to check for any problems (for example, full anal glands).
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