Is Your Pet A
Growing older is a fact of life that we all
must deal with. Most of us would like to
grow older gracefully. Proper diet,
vitamins, regular exercise and routine
medical check-ups are a basic part of our
lives. But what about our pets? Did you
know that dogs at 6 years of age are
considered 40 years old in human terms,
and at 9 years their age is equivalent to 52
in human years? Statistically, we also
know that large breeds of dogs live an
average of nine to ten years, whereas small
breeds live an average of twelve to
thirteen years or more.
We recommend the following steps in
caring for your older pet:
- Nutrition. Feed a diet appropriate for
your pet's needs. Some geriatric patients
will benefit from diets designed for
older animals. It is advisable to control
obesity at any age, but this becomes
even more important as a pet ages.
Closely monitor your pet's water
consumption. A persistent increase in
thirst might be an early sign of a
problem such as diabetes, kidney
disease, liver disease, adrenal gland
disease or uterine disease.
- Skin Care. Routine grooming is
essential. Tumors are more common in
older patients and should be brought to
your veterinarian's attention.
Check the skin closely for parasites. Fleas
and ticks can debilitate an older pet.
- Dental Care. Regular dental cleaning is
recommended. Various products are
available for home care, including
toothpastes and oral cleansing gels.
When used regularly, these will help
prevent tartar formation and gum
disease. One of the leading causes of
kidney disease in dogs and cats is
infection spreading throughout the body
from chronic periodontal disease.
- Physical Examination. Physical exams
play an important role in patient
evaluations. Early diagnosis often
increases the chance of successful
- Screening Tests. Some diseases cannot
be detected physically. As your pet
approaches ten years of age, a more
complete look at internal organ
function is a good idea. This evaluation
might consist of one or more of the
following screening tests:
- Complete Blood Count. This test
measures red blood cells and white
blood cells. It will help detect
anemias and other blood cell
- Blood Chemistry Profile. This is a
group of twenty-five different tests
of organ function. Kidney function,
liver function and blood sugar levels
are measured as part of this test.
- Urinalysis. Many older pets are
Prone to chronic cystitis. This test
will tell us if infection is present.
Urine concentration is also
important in evaluating kidney
- Thyroid Hormone Test. Many older
patients develop thyroid disease.
The signs can be subtle and are
often interpreted as normal aging.
- Chest X-rays. Lung and heart
diseases can sometimes be detected
radiographically before they are
Some of these tests may be indicated for your pet.