Time really does fly, doesn't it? One minute your puppy or kitten is getting into everything, and the next thing you know your vet is saying Fluffy or Milo is now "over the hill". Our older pets deserve some special care and consideration. Even though things might look good on the surface, it is possible that they are developing some early disease. If detected early enough, many issues can be treated or at least slowed down enough to give our pets a longer, better quality life.
We recommend yearly wellness bloodwork for all of our geriatric pets to help us screen for many different diseases. Have you ever wondering what all those "things" are that we are investigating we recommend bloodwork? Keep reading, and hopefully by the end you will have a better understanding of the bloodwork we are requesting for your geriatric pets.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)This is the most common blood test performed on pets and people. A CBC gives information on hydration status, anaemia, infection, the blood's clotting ability, and the ability of the immune system to respond.
Red Cell Count measures the total number of red blood cells per volume of blood. It is used in detecting anaemia and other disorders of red blood cells. MCV (Mean Cell Volume) measures the volume of the individual red blood cell.
Reticulocytes are immature red blood cells. High levels indicate rebuilding of red blood cell numbers.
Blood chemistriesThese common blood serum tests evaluate organ function, electrolyte status, hormone levels and more.
What do you have to worry about as your pet ages? Our senior pets have increased risk for developing certain conditions and we have put together a list of the top 9 concerns.
This painful, degenerative joint disease affects most pets at some point during their senior years. If your dog or cat seems reluctant to go up and down stairs, is no longer willing to jump into and out of the car or onto and off of furniture or if they seems stiff after standing up, talk to your veterinarian. Your vet may be able to prescribe medicine that can help with arthritis pain, and may also recommend other management strategies, like weight loss (if your pet is overweight), acupuncture or massage.
2. Deafness - Cats can experience hearing loss. The loss may be barely noticeable, or, as in the case of some cats, the hearing loss can be total. As dogs age, the sense of hearing tends to go. While you can’t purchase hearing aids for a deaf dog, you can still communicate with him. Teach him hand signals, and consider stomping your foot so he feels the vibrations and knows you’re still nearby or use the time-honored method of going to him to alert him that it’s dinnertime. He’ll appreciate it.
3. Blindness - Both dogs and cats can show a bluish transparent "haze" in the pupil area. This is a normal effect of aging, and the medical term for this is lenticular sclerosis. Vision does not appear to be affected. This is NOT the same as cataracts. Cataracts are white and opaque. Vision can be affected by cataracts, and your vet needs to be consulted.
Check out this cat and dog pair: http://www.lifewithdogs.tv/2014/10/blind-and-deaf-dog-has-guide-cat-best-friend/
4. Metabolic disease - The "big 4" are kidney, liver, thyroid and diabetes. We recommend yearly bloodwork to screen for these diseases. Next week we will go more in depth about the bloodwork that we recommend.
Cognitive Dysfunction - Yes, pets can go a bit senile as they age. Stay tuned for more info later in the month.
Cancer - A scary one for most of us to consider, but as our pets live longer they are at greater risk for developing cancer. Take your pet to the vet if you notice weight loss or loss of appetite; lumps or bumps that increase in size; sores that don’t heal; bleeding or other discharge from the mouth, nose or anus; or unusual body odor. These can all be warning signs of cancer. A pet with cancer may have difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating and he also may exhibit a noticeable lack of energy, difficulty eating or swallowing or unexplained lameness.
Bumps and Lumps - Not all lumps are scary. A lot of animals just old age skin tags and lumps, just like us. But see you veterinarian, just to be on the safe side.
Urinary Incontinence - There are many underlying medical conditions that can cause our older pets to become incontinent. However, sometimes as they get older things can simply get a bit....leaky. The good news is that if it is true urinary incontinence, there are treatments that are effective in most cases.
Obesity - This can be a health issue for all ages. But older pets have a harder time carrying around that extra weight, especially if they also have arthritis or other joint issues. Talk with your vet about how to best help your pet lose weight.