It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is right around the corner! Soon we’ll all be busy with shopping and cooking. Students will be studying for finals and kids will be revising their Christmas lists (since they probably started them in August). Surveys have shown that most Americans buy presents for their pets as well as their friends and relatives at the holidays. If you are having trouble deciding what to get your furry companion this year, how about doing something for their health?
Pets are living longer today than they ever have thanks to advances in veterinary medicine and nutrition. As our pets age, we are able to keep them healthier for longer and one important way to do this is by catching and treating problems early. One of the best ways to do this is with a comprehensive physical and senior wellness screen at least yearly. Dogs are considered to be “seniors” around age seven, and even younger for the giant breeds like Great Danes and Saint Bernards. Cats are seniors at age ten. At this age, we get concerned about some of the diseases that are typically seen in our older patients.
Kidney disease is one of the most common things we see in our aging patients- especially cats. People tend to get heart problems and strokes as they age- often related to high cholesterol causing blockage of the arteries. In dogs and cats, the kidneys seem to age first. You will often see weight loss, decreased appetite and excessive drinking and urinating. These same signs are also seen with another common problem- diabetes. There are actually a number of problems that can cause these signs, so if you notice your pet having any of these issues, you should call us right away.
The senior wellness screen involves taking a small blood and urine sample which we send to our laboratory. We usually get the results back the next day. We check liver and kidney function, blood sugar, electrolytes, protein and calcium levels and red and white cell counts. In cats we also check for thyroid problems. We use the urine to assess kidney function and hidden infections in the bladder and kidneys. We will also examine your pet for signs of arthritis and dental disease which are very common in our older patients. By catching problems early, we can manage them before your pet gets sick and help him lead a longer, healthier life.
So this year, consider getting your pet the gift of health- it may not taste as good as a dog cookie, but it may help him enjoy those cookies for a lot longer. And if he’s a good patient (or even if he isn’t), he can get a dog cookie treat from us!