I think I look at old dogs and cats the way other people look at puppies. They warm and break your heart all at the same time. To me old pets are the epitome of unconditional love. They’ve been there with us though good times, bad times, moves, kids, breakups, and marriages. Some have been with us longer than our significant others have. I think we can all agree if we could extend the lives of our pets, and quality of life of our pets, we would. The most complex discussion I have with clients on a daily basis is senior care and quality of life. Quality of life and end of life decisions is another discussion for another time, but today I wanted to talk about how to take care of our older pets.
1. Exams!! This is the number one tool we have to care for and diagnose our pets. We can find so much from a thorough physical exam. 6 months is ideal for any pet (this is way over a year in “dog years”). Exams also give us insight into a crippling condition in our older pets, and the leading cause of humane euthanasia, arthritis. Intervening early on in arthritic conditions can add several years to our pets quality of life.
2. Senior screens- for most clinics this includes comprehensive bloodwork, urinalysis, and blood pressure. Common illnesses for older pets include thyroid disease, kidney disease, and diabetes. Senior screens check for each of these to help diagnose and treat these conditions before they become life threatening.
3. Imaging- this is probably considered a more in-depth tool, but can be the difference between acute death and living years longer. Ultrasound can detect changes in the spleen, most commonly masses that can rupture and bleed out leading to acute death, chronic kidney changes, and liver changes. Radiographs can help find metastasis-progression of cancer within the body.
The image above shows metastasis to the lungs from a primary cancer.
While some things in older dogs can not be avoided, many things can. These simple steps may be the difference in years extended with our pets.
In lighter news- I became an aunt about two weeks ago and am meeting the little stinker now!
Can you say obsessed? He’s being shy, but really he just hasn’t learned how alarmingly cute he is.
Hope everyone has a great weekend full of football and sofa time! I sure will! And no, I’m not running this weekend. Life’s too short and too precious to not spend every minute with my family while I can.
P.S. yes the URL of my blog changed. Sorry for any confusion, but there were conflicts with the original name.