In addition to our regular wellness care program, we like to incorporate a few other things into our Senior Wellness programs. We still evaluate things like diet, exercise, vaccination status and parasite control programs, but there are a few other things that we monitor with our senior pets.
A more thorough physical exam is performed to monitor things like degenerative joint disease and hip dysplasia. We look to see if there are signs of crepitus (popping and grinding) in the joints, decreased range of motion, or signs of pain such as increased difficulty when standing up from the floor or while going up and down stairs. The main areas that we look at for problems are wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, hips and spine. There are many things available to help make your pet more comfortable as they are developing some “wear and tear” and the joints. We also look for changes in breathing patterns, heart rate and rhythm, signs of dental disease, cataracts, pain and evaluation for potentially cancerous conditions such as new or changing lumps or bumps.
Dietary requirements may change as our pets age or if they are developing signs of dysfunction with the GI tract, liver, kidneys or thyroid gland. We can help advise you of dietary changes that can be beneficial to them and their particular issues.
We pay more attention to the “over-vaccination” part of vaccination as they are getting into the more senior years. Repeated exposure to vaccines may contribute to the more subtle types of chronic inflammatory diseases that we see as our pets age. Many times we will suggest monitoring vaccine titers instead of booster the vaccines. We need to make sure that they stay protected against infectious diseases, while not overexposing their systems to unnecessary antigens.
In our senior programs, we often suggest screening bloodwork (CBC & Chemistry profile) to evaluate red and white blood cells to look for signs of anemia, infection, chronic inflammation, liver and kidney dysfunction and electrolyte abnormalities. We can also perform a urinalysis to evaluate for signs of inflammation, crystals or stones and cancer in the bladder as well as obtaining information about glucose and protein levels that may be an indication of things like kidney disease or diabetes. There are also tests available to evaluate thyroid and adrenal functions as well as many others that will be recommended based on your pet’s specific needs.