They say that age is just a number, and it is how young we feel that counts. That young feeling can mask certain disease processes in our pets that occur as they get older. Even if your senior dog is behaving like a puppy, and your senior cat is as spry as a kitten, they will hide their suffering so as not to appear weak, which is a behavioral hold-over from their wild animal origins. By the time they show symptoms through “acting old,” diseases such as arthritis, kidney failure, thyroid impairment, or heart failure have taken their toll, and may already be causing your pet severe discomfort and pain.

In human years, an 11 year old dog is 72! By that age, many of us are seeing our own doctors at least twice a year if not more, and having blood work and other diagnostic tests done to detect diseases of our organs before they become life threatening. At the Suffolk Veterinary Group Animal Wellness & Laser Surgery Center, our Veterinary Team also likes to take this proactive approach to evaluating the health of our mature companion animals. Dogs are considered Senior when they reach the age of 7 years old for large breeds and about 10 years old for small to medium breeds. Cats are Senior at the age of 7 years old.

Senior Preventative Health & Wellness Visits are recommended to be done twice a year, as a pet ages at a rate of approximately 4 years physically for every one year on the calendar. A typical Senior Preventative Health & Wellness Visit for your senior pet will include the following, and usually takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes:

A complete medical history of your senior pet’s recent activities will be written down in your senior pet’s medical record by one of our Veterinary Team’s Licensed Veterinary Technicians. They will also perform an initial exam of your senior pet’s physical vitals, such as weight, temperature, heart rate, and respiration rate. They may ask you questions pertaining to your senior pet’s diet, exercise levels, and travels. Please answer all questions as completely as possible, as the answers will assist our Veterinary Team in forming your senior pet’s health & wellness profile.

A Comprehensive Physical Examination done by the Veterinarian will palpate every part of your senior pet’s body. During this hands-on examination, the Veterinarian will feel over your senior pet from their nose to the tip of their tail, and make notations regarding the appearance of any abnormalities they find. Once this exam is complete, they will discuss with you their findings, review with you your senior pet’s medical history, and consult with you as to the health & wellness profile necessary.

Diagnostic testing for early detection of disease for senior pets include echocardiograms to monitor heart health, blood pressure monitoring, complete blood counts and blood chemistry to evaluate organ function, a urinalysis to check kidney function, and a parasite analysis. Radiographs may be recommended if any lumps or bumps have developed since your senior pet’s last physical exam, as these may be suspect for cancer.

The veterinarian will evaluate your senior pet’s range of motion in their joints, as well as question you as to their activity levels, to determine if arthritis is causing your senior pet any discomfort. If so, we can provide for your senior pet pain management prescriptions, or start them on a Therapy Laser pain management treatment protocol that does not require any medications, and can help reduce the amount of pain your pet may be experiencing.

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Based upon the above evaluations, the Veterinarian will consult with you the necessary vaccinations your senior pet will need to ensure that they are protected against many diseases, some of which are extremely debilitating. If you do not wish to vaccinate your senior pet, we highly recommend doing blood work called vaccine titers, which will measure the immunity level your senior pet has against some of these diseases to determine whether a booster vaccination is necessary. Senior pets are especially at-risk for diseases when un-vaccinated new puppies or kittens are introduced into a household, and a senior pet’s vaccinations have lapsed and their immune system is impaired from age or organ disease.

By using twice a year physical examinations and early detection diagnostics, you and our Veterinary Team can help extend your senior pet’s life, making them feel as young as they act. All your questions regarding your senior pet’s health will be answered, and the Suffolk Veterinary Group Animal Wellness & Laser Surgery Center Veterinary Team will discuss with you nutritional, behavioral, dental, and any surgical recommendations the Veterinarian has made.

Please, call us at 631-696-2400 to schedule your pet’s examination today.