Senior Pet Wellness

Pets are generally considered “senior” between the ages of nine (9) and 14, or six (6) and 10 in larger breed dogs; but while the progression from adult to senior (and any associated changes in health) can happen gradually or relatively suddenly, it typically occurs between the ages of seven (7) and 10.

When roughly six (6) “human years” can pass between annual visits, annual wellness examinations offer your veterinarian the opportunity to identify changes in your pet’s health which may be easily overlooked, or complications for which your pet might be asymptomatic (display no outward signs of disease). Likewise, it is important to pay close attention to any changes in your pet(s)’s health as they age, and not discount those which may occur between annual wellness visits.

More detailed information regarding Understanding Your Pet’s Age is available in the Pet Health Library:

Understanding Your Pet’s Age

Annual Wellness Examination

During an annual wellness examination of a senior pet, special attention is paid to age-related changes in your pet’s health, including:

  • Changes in eating or drinking habits (Nutrition), including:
    • Weight gain or loss
    • Poor appetite, lack of appetite, disinterest in eating, or refusal to eat
    • Excessive thirst
    • Vomiting lasting more than 24 hours
  • Dental problems, including:
    • Pale, blue, dry, or reddened, inflamed gums
    • Halitosis (foul odor from the mouth)
  • Impaired Vision, or other ocular issues, such as:
    • Discharge around the eyes
  • Hearing loss
  • Poor bladder and/or bowel control, including:
    • Diarrhea lasting more than 24 hours
    • Inappropriate urination or defecation
  • Skin conditions (Dermatology), such as:
    • Cysts or other types of growths
    • Foul odor emanating from the ears or skin (?)
  • Respiratory issues, including:
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Nasal discharge
  • Weakness and/or pain, including:
    • Limping or non-weight-bearing lameness
    • Imbalance or dizziness
    • Vocalized pain

In addition to a comprehensive examination, further diagnostic disciplines; most importantly Laboratory testing, can aid in identifying disease(s) before clinical signs present themselves, preceding a chronic or potentially-life-threatening condition, such as:

  • Cancer(s)
  • Dental disease(s)
  • Endocrine disease(s) (such as adrenal gland disease, diabetes, and/or thyroid disease)
  • Heart disease
  • Intestinal condition(s) (such as colitis and/or inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease

In addition to Laboratory diagnostic techniques, Cardiology, Digital Radiography, and/or Ultrasonography methods may provide additional, valuable diagnostic information where bloodwork is inconclusive.