Growing older is a fact of life that we all must deal with. Proper diet, vitamins, regular exercise and routine medical checkups are a basic part of our lives, but what about our pets? Did you know that dogs at 6 years of age are considered 40 years old in human terms, and at 9 years their age is equivalent to a 52-year-old human? Statistically, we also know that large breeds of dogs live an average of 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 or 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 prostatic problems, as well as anal and testicular tumors. Owners of breeding animals should strongly consider spaying or neutering those 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 shampooing.
- Have your veterinarian perform complete geriatric health evaluation as your pet approaches 9 - 10 years of age.
This evaluation should consist of the following:
- Blood count
- Thyroid hormone test
- Blood test for liver and kidney function
- Urinalysis with urine protein levels
- 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 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.