Early Detection Program
The good news is that dogs are now living longer. And nothing contributes more to
the long life of your dog than regular visits to your veterinarian. There’s a reason
why regular visits are so important. Dogs age far faster than we do, so health problems
can develop rapidly, especially in older animals. We want to quickly catch small
problems before they become major medical conditions.
The importance of annual
Along with a detailed medical history and a thorough medical examination, your veterinarian
will order diagnostic testing to establish baseline laboratory data. Our senior
evaluation includes sensitive laboratory tests that can detect the onset of diseases
and conditions early, when treatment and prevention are most effective.
Your dog’s health assessment
Using the information gained from this evaluation, your veterinarian will provide
you with an assessment of your dog’s overall health and make any necessary recommendations.
Your veterinarian will also look for arthritis, which is common in older dogs, as
well as dental disease, which can lead to serious medical conditions. For the best
care, your senior dog should be examined by your veterinarian every 6 months, which
is similar to a time span of 2 to 3 years in human years.
Early detection signs:
Bad breath or drooling, change in activity level, change on appetite or weight,
change in attitude or responsiveness, change in sleep patterns, change in urination (amount
or frequency), change in water consumption, confusion or disorientation, constipation,
diarrhea, or vomiting, coughing, heavy or rapid breathing at rest, incontinence,
lethargy or depression, lumps or bumps on or under skin, noticeable decrease in
vision (e.g., bumping onto furniture), sneezing, stiffness (e.g., trouble jumping,
climbing, stairs, or walking).
Caring For Your Senior Dog
Most dogs are considered to be “senior” at 7 years of age. However, larger dogs
tend to have a shorter life expectancy than their smaller counterparts, so health
issues may occur sooner for them. If your dog is a large breed, you need to pay
particular attention to your pet’s life stage and changing needs at an earlier age
than you might expect.
HOW OLD IS YOUR DOG
(IN PEOPLE YEARS)?
Approximately 22% of dogs older than 7 years of age harbor disease that is only
detectable with an advanced diagnostic workup. Fortunately, many diseases can be
treated and have favorable outcome if diagnosed in the early stages.
However, dogs age more rapidly than people (as the chart shows), so dramatic changes
in health can occur in as little time as 2 to 6 months. That is why visits to your
veterinarian and regular testing are essential to your pet’s quality of life.
Although an annual exam may be sufficient for younger dogs, your veterinarian needs
to see your older dog at least two times a year.
Several noninvasive tests and procedures performed regularly can provide you and
your veterinarian with a baseline for measuring changes and can help detect early-stage
disease. These tests check for:
- Diseases of the heart, intestines, kidneys, pancreas, and thyroid
Routine testing combined with twice-a-year exams can reassure you of your older dogs
continued good health or help your veterinarian begin treatment early, giving you
and your dog a formidable advantage over diseases.
Your Best Friend Has Special Needs
Age is not just a number but also a measure of the effect of aging on the body.
Variables such as genetics, nutrition, and the environment all contribute to how
your dog ages.
Nutrition and Environment
A proper diet and suitable environment are critical to your cat’s continued health
and comfort. Your veterinarian may advise you on modifications for your aging pet.
These may include a special diet or an exercise regimen based on your dog’s specific
New medications are now available that are safe and effective for pain management,
arthritis, cognitive dysfunction syndrome, and other age related diseases.
FIVE BASIC TESTS THAT OFFER MORE THAN BASIC INFORMATION
There are five types of basic tests your veterinarian will use to evaluate wellness.
Each one provides a wealth of information concerning the true health of your pet.
1. COMPLETE BLOOD COUNT (CBC)
The CBS tests for anemia, infection inflammation, and overall healthiness of the
blood cells. It also evaluates the number and type of cells in circulation. White
Blood Cells (WBC’s), help fight infection or inflammation. Red Blood Cells (RBC’s)
carry oxygen to the tissues.
2. CHEMISTRY TESTS
The chemistry panel surveys many of the organ systems of the body to make sure they
are working normally.
Liver (AST, ALT, Alk. Phos., T. Bilirubin, GGT, Cholesterol, Proteins)
This group of tests help to evaluate various functions and health of the liver.
Decreased liver function, inflammation, infection and neoplasia (abnormal growth
of cells) of the liver and gall bladder may be detected by one or all of these tests.
Kidney(BUB, Creatinine, Phosphorus, Amylase, Albumin, Globulin)
These tests monitor th e function and health of the kidneys. They are most helpful
and sensitive for detecting kidney disease when combined with a urinalysis(see section
Pancreas (Glucose, Amylase, Lipase, Triglyceride)
These tests are abnormal when there is something wrong with the pancreas or carbohydrate
metabolism (examples are diabetes mellitus and pancreatitis).
Muscle and Bone
- Calcium and phosphorus are helpful in determining the health of bone metabolism
- CPK and AST are abnormal with muscle damage, trauma, or inflammation.
- Electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Magnesium, Calcium, Phosphorus).
- These are important in monitoring the electrical, water balance and cellular health
of the body.
- Deficiencies or excesses of these electrolytes are harmful to the animal’s physical
and mental well- being.
3. THYROID FUNCTION TESTS
As the name implies, these tests are useful in diagnosing malfunctions of the thyroid
gland. Hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone) is common in dogs; whereas hyperthyroidism
(too much thyroid hormone) is common in older cats. Because there is no single thyroid
test that can diagnose all thyroid diseases in animals, a panel of several different
thyroid tests are used to ensure proper diagnosis.
This assesses the health and function of the urinary system. It is especially important
in older animals to help in early detection of kidney disease. While some serum
chemistries help evaluate kidney function (BUN, Creatinine, etc.), much more information
is obtained when a urinalysis is done at the same time. The urine sample is tested
for several chemical components (glucose, protein, blood and more), as well as any
cells (WBC, RBC, epithelial, etc.) and crystals.
5. PARASITE EXAMS
A sample of stool is examined to look for hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, coccidia,
Giardia, and other intestinal parasites.
Serum is tested for the presence of heartworm on an annual basis. Whole blood can
also be examined in anemic animals for other parasites such as Babesia, Hemobartonella,
A SENIOR @ SEVEN WELLNESS EXAM PROVIDES REAL ANSWERS TO YOUR PET’S OVERALL HEALTH
Your pet seems to be happy and robust. The truth is, the gradual onset of disease
in seemingly healthy pets will often go unnoticed. Once symptoms do appear, the
condition may be difficult and costly to treat and diagnose. This is why a Wellness
Exam is so important to your pet’s quality of life. Diagnostic testing is the most
sensitive and accurate method of early detection of subclinical health problems.
A Wellness Exam includes laboratory tests your veterinarian can use to diagnose
blood disorders, kidney and liver disease, diabetes, infection, cancer, thyroid
disease and other hormonal problems. Many of these conditions can be prevented,
controlled, or completely reversed if diagnosed early.
A Wellness Exam also gives your veterinarian a benchmark from which to measure future test results should your pet become ill. A Wellness Exam is just one element of a complete wellness program that promotes pet health. Regular dental care, vaccinations or vaccine titers, control of parasites, proper nutrition, regular exercise and appropriate environment also add vitality and years to your pet’s life.