As a pet parent, you know your dog or cat's most coveted snacks, favorite window perches, or places to go on walks. You even know which side of your bed they like to sleep on! However, you can't see when your pet's kidneys start to slow down or recognize if their joints are beginning to ache because of hip dysplasia or knee pain. Your pet's veterinarian can help you by detecting a problem in its early stages - when it's more likely to be treatable or resolved with less expense, less difficulty, and better success.
Wellness exams (every six months to once per year) are essential to help detect any changes that come with aging, such as arthritis and dental disease. During those pet wellness exams, your vet can go over important life stage changes like appropriate dietary recommendations and how to maintain an appropriately active lifestyle for your pet. Parts to the wellness exam include listening to the heart, feeling the abdominal organs, checking hips and knees, and also checking their dental health: teeth and gums. Blood work often plays a vital role in evaluating organ function and aids in detecting infection, anemia, diabetes, kidney failure, thyroid disease and other medical conditions.
Cats and dogs age at a much more rapid rate than we do, and it is vital to play a proactive role in your pet's health. Cats, in particular, tend to live through extended senior stages starting as early as about eight years old and going on into their geriatric stages at around 13-15 years old. Cats are very good at hiding when they don't feel well, so often they don't come to the veterinarian's office until they are very sick.
Dogs, depending on their breeds or mixes, can have specific genetic predispositions, and age at very different rates. A Chihuahua becomes a senior around 8-9 years old, whereas a Great Dane becomes a senior around 4-5 years old. Your veterinarian can help tailor your specific dog's wellness screening based on what type of dog you have and your dog's age. For example, owners of Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Dobermans, and Cocker Spaniels should consider doing regular EKG's and chest X-Rays in their senior years to help detect early changes in their hearts. These breeds can be predisposed to cardiac conditions such as Mitral Valve Disease or Dilated Cardiomyopathy. Owners of senior Golden Retrievers may want to consider abdominal X-Rays to detect that breed's predisposition for developing splenic tumors. Ask your vet next time you go in, based on what type of dog you have, if he or she has any specific suggestions of wellness screening tests or preventative measures that you can take to help keep your dog healthy and safe.
Just like with our own health, it is always best to be proactive and take preventative measures to help your pet live a comfortable and happy life. Routine pet wellness exams with your veterinarian can help you play an active role in your pet's longevity. After all, we want to be together to experience life's adventures for as long as we possibly can.
Call Standifer's Animal Clinic in Homewood/Birmingham for your pet's wellness exam appointment.