Growing older is a fact of life that we all must deal with. Proper diet, vitamins, regular exercise and medical checkups are a routine part of our lives, but what about our pets? Statistically, we also know that a large breed dogs lifespan averages nine to 10 years, where small breeds live an average of 12 to 13 years.
Geriatric medicine is as important to your pet as it is to you. By the time your pet reaches 6 years old, the aging process is already beginning but may not be noticeable to you. To help ensure a long and healthy life, we recommend the following steps in caring for your geriatric pet.
- Have your pet spayed/neutered at an early age. Fifty to sixty percent of unspayed dogs develop mammary tumors by age 10, In addition, as they go through the change of life, uterine infections can occur which are extremely life threatening. Therefore, older unspayed females must be checked regularly for mammary tumors and unusual vaginal discharges. Uncastrated males can develop prostate problems, as well as anal and testicular tumors. Owners of breeding animals should strongly consider spaying or neutering animals that have finished their reproductive years.
- Have routine medical checkups by your veterinarian.
- Feed a geriatric diet specially formulated for the needs of an aging pet.
- Keep teeth free from tartar. Regular dental prophylaxis is a must! Use toothpaste and brushes specially formulated for pets. One of the leading causes of kidney disease in the dog is infection spreading throughout the body from chronic periodontal disease.
- Provide proper care of the skin and coat with routine grooming.
- Have your veterinarian perform complete geriatric health evaluation as your pet approaches 7-8 years of age.
This evaluation should consist of the following:
- Complete Blood count
- Thyroid Test
- Blood Testing for Liver and Kidney Function
- EKG Screening & Glaucoma Screening
- Chest X-Ray
These tests are used not only to evaluate your pets health status now, but also to compare the changes that are occurring from year to year. See your veterinarian today. He or she can help you set up a healthcare program for your geriatric pet. Early detection and prevention are the keys to longevity.