Senior Canine Care
You know the joys of having a longtime, faithful companion when you have a senior pet. But you also know that keeping your furry friend healthy and comfortable takes a bit more effort. To ensure your senior pet’s well-being, Lakewood Vet encourages you to focus on three areas of senior pet health: bloodwork indicators, healthy weight (Diabetes/nutrition), and joints/pain.
Bloodwork & Diagnostics
At your dog’s wellness visit, we recommend lab work or blood screenings. Just like in humans, the cells and chemicals present in your pet’s blood can give the doctor a wealth of clues about what’s happening in various organs of the body. As your pet ages and becomes a senior pet (past age 7), an expanded blood panel becomes more important to track any changes in your pet’s overall health and detect the onset of illness and disease that senior pets are prone to developing. Below is a brief description of the most common types of blood testing and their purpose:
• Complete Blood Count (CBC): The CBC is a routine blood test that acts like a snapshot of the red, white, and platelet cells in your pet’s blood and can reveal many conditions such as anemia, dehydration, or infection.
• Blood Chemistry Panels: These tests give information on specific organ systems and their function which helps with early detection of disease when it is easier to treat and more likely to respond to treatment.
• Heartworm – A potentially deadly parasitic disease, heartworm is spread by mosquitoes and has been confirmed in all 50 states. A heartworm blood test looks for specific heartworm proteins called antigens, which are released by adult heartworms into the dog’s bloodstream.
• Intestinal Parasite Exam: This important fecal test will help determine if any parasites are present in your dog’s digestive system. Intestinal parasites can cause illness in dogs as well as their human caretakers.
Weight, Diabetes, & Nutrition
Diabetes in dogs is more common than you might think: it is estimated that approximately 1 in 300 adult dogs in the U.S. will develop the disease. While diabetes can occur at any age, it is of particular concern for senior pets—those over 7. Symptoms of diabetes can include:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Increased hunger
- Weight loss
- Cloudy eyes, especially in dogs
- Poor skin condition
Females are twice as likely as males to become diabetic, and there are some dog breeds that are at higher risk as well—they include Samoyeds, miniature schnauzers, miniature poodles, and pugs.
While there’s no known cure for diabetes, your pet can lead a happy, healthy life with insulin injections, diet modification, and careful blood monitoring. However, this disease remains a serious, life-threatening condition. Lakewood Vet Center prioritizes prevention and collaborates with pet parents to monitor diets and determine the best nutrition and exercise plan to keep senior pets as healthy as possible.
Joint Pain & Arthritis
Senior dogs are at a high risk of osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease (DJD), which makes their joints stiff and painful to move. All breeds are prone to developing DJD, and each joint can become impacted, even the spine. These are some signs that can indicate your dog is suffering:
- Soreness, especially after long periods of rest
- General slow movement
- Inability to jump onto the couch, bed, or into the car
- Difficulty going up and down stairs
- Preference for shorter walks
- Loss of muscle on the legs
At Lakewood Vet Center, we recommend walking your dog on a regular basis – the movement will help your dog maintain good muscle tone/strength which is crucial to keep your arthritic pet mobile. It is important to make sure you do not make your dog walk more than they are willing. The less active your canine is, the more prone they are to pain and stiffness. Our vets collaborate with pet parents to develop treatment plans including nutrition, physical therapies, and pain management medications, to reduce pain as much as possible for senior pets.