As our pets get older, their health and body change. As pet owners, we are responsible for diagnosing, addressing, and treating our pet’s conditions early in order to give them the highest quality of life during their senior years. The most important step in helping your pet manage these changes is to make an appointment with your Vet for an annual or better yet twice annual exam. These regular exams help your Vet better understand the changes in your pet’s health and what the best treatment option is. Changes in health are a part of life, we must accept the fact that, like humans, as animals age they are more prone to various diseases including arthritis, gum disease, diabetes, blindness, kidney disease, cancer, and dementia. The following article will hopefully better help you understand senior pet health and what we can do to maintain and manage it.
Geriatric Blood Panel: Although a regular physical exam is important to maintain your senior pet’s health; it only gives your Vet a partial overview of health. To get a more complex evaluation, we need to “look under the hood” so to speak. The best way to do this is a comprehensive blood panel where your Vet is able to test for various levels and provide direct evaluations of the health of the liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, and immune system. In addition to helping us make a diagnosis, the blood panel is helpful in determining a prognosis of the disease. A typical geriatric blood panel will measure the following levels:
- Blood Glucose, BUN, Creatinine, Calcium, Total Protein, Albumin, Globulin, Total Bilirubin, Alkaline Phosphatase, ALT (SGPT), Cholesterol, Sodium, and Potassium.
Pain Medications: After your Vet has diagnosed the problem, it is important to find the right treatment. More often than not, prescription medication will be necessary to alleviate the pain associated with many ailments. The following medications are commonly used in most Vet clinics. Antibiotics such as Metronidazole are frequently prescribed to dogs fighting bacterial infections. Ivermectin is a common anti-parasitic prescribed to treat infections caused by parasites in dogs. Humidity and heat can contribute to yeast overgrowth in the ears and on the skin and result in irritation and inflammation. The antifungal medication Ketoconazole is commonly prescribed to eliminate fungal infections quickly. Steroids such as Prednisone can alleviate symptoms associated with inflammation and cancer. Pain relievers such as Tramadol, are used to alleviate the chronic pain associated with arthritis or cancer in dogs, as well as surgery or injury related pain.
Changes to Your Home: It is important that you make your aging pet comfortable at home, especially as arthritis and joint pain can cause discomfort and difficulty moving. Making small changes to your home can make your pet more comfortable. Some easy changes include making sure your pets bed is soft, cushioned, low, and heated, especially in cold weather. Older dogs have a more difficult time maintaining their body temperature, especially short-coated and slender breeds. Clothes can help keep your pets warm, especially in the winter and your local pet store will have a vast supply of cute sweaters and booties. If your pets are allowed on the furniture, consider getting steps to help your pet jump up more easily. A ramp going down the front/back steps or in/out of the car can be very helpful too.
Diet: The right diet is crucial to the health and life of our pets. Vet clinic offers a variety of prescription diets that are created to suit the needs of your specific pet and its condition. Different ingredients provide different health benefits, for this reason, the scientists behind prescription diets have formulated condition-specific foods for your pets. Our clinic has the following diets, most of which come in both wet and dry formulas for both dogs and cats:
- Royal Canin:
Dental, Weight Control, Mature Consult, Senior Consult, Anallergenic, Calm, Calorie Control, Diabetic, Gastrointestinal, Hypoallergenic, Mobility Support, Recovery, Reduced Protein, Renal, Satiety Support, Skin Care, Sensitivity, Urinary S/O, and Vegetarian
- Purina Veterinary Diet:
DCO Dual Fiber Control, DH Dental Health, DRM Dermatologic Management, EN Gastroenteric, HA Hypoallergenic, JM Joint Mobility, NF Kidney Function, OM Overweight Management
- Hill’s Prescription Diet:
A/D serious illness, B/D brain health, C/D urinary tract health, U/D bladder health, METABOLIC weight reduction, W/D weight control, D/D skin conditions, Z/D food sensitivity
Aging is not a bad thing. In fact, most of us share an undeniable bond with our senior pets. The time we share together over the years is wonderful and we want those memories to continue for many, many more. This is why we all must make the effort to book regular Vet appointments that include blood work. Exercise is key to preventing and managing weight issues and overall health, so continue playing with your pets, taking them on regular walks, and letting them get a little wild in the off leash park. Making small changes around your home to help them move around with ease will make things easier on both them and you. And finally, feeding them a high quality Vet approved diet is critical to the maintenance of their health. So book an appointment with your local Vet, or even pop by your local clinic to discuss diet options- trust me, your pets will appreciate it!
by: Breah Russell, Reception