Of the 100 million pets in the United States, more than one-third fall into the "senior" category. Since many age-related problems are insidious and irreversible, it is imperative that they be discovered early enough for medical and surgical intervention.
What is "senior care"?
Simply stated, it is the implementation of preventative and therapeutic strategies based on the recognition that the needs of older pets are fundamentally different from those of young and adult pets and should be addressed accordingly. Our Senior Care Evaluation gives your pet a comprehensive evaluation at an affordable price.
We are not alone in recognizing the importance of "senior care." The concept is already widely recognized by the majority of companion-animal practitioners. Ninety-eight percent of the veterinarians sampled in a recent national survey said they believed senior pets have different medical needs than younger adults and that these senior patients often benefit from specialized medical services and testing.
The physiological basis of senior care
Physiological changes in senior animal dictate special health programs. For example, we know as part of the normal aging process that the number of liver cells decrease. Similarly, we recognize the occurrence of kidney changes including decreased total weight from the atrophy of kidney tubules. Also evident in older pets is an increase in the incidence of urinary incontinence. Additionally, there are cardiovascular changes such as valve related murmurs and subsequent decreased cardiac output.
Because aging also causes a decrease in the basal metabolic rate, we know that older animals tend to have decreased activity levels resulting in an increased body fat percentage. This is especially important consideration because increased body weight is reflected in an increased incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular, respiratory and orthopedic diseases; and possibly cancer.
Immune System changes in older patients include decreased cell function and an increased incidence of immune-mediated hemolytic anemia and immune-mediated platelet diseases. Senior patients frequently require treatment with medicines for disease management. Since aging affects absorption, distribution, biotransformation and elimination of many drugs, special adjustments in therapy may be indicated. Routine blood profile tests of the liver and kidney clarify the risk-benefit ratio for drug administration.
Finally, nutritional issues are important and can significantly improve the length and quality of a pet's life, if these changes are instituted before disease has effected appetite. The foregoing exhaustive list of physiological changes leads to our veterinarians to commonly encounter obesity, dental disease, arthritis, kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease, thyroid disease and cancer. Many of these conditions are either preventable or controlled through early detection and treatment.
Defining our "Senior Care" Program
It is a privilege to offer this program as part of your pet's annual comprehensive physical examination. We will need to schedule a 30 minute "Senior Care" examination.
During an initial exam with a certified veterinary technician, a detailed questionnaire will be reviewed. Our purpose is to detail observations of changing pet behavior, lifestyle and diet that the owners have observed. This questionnaire should be completed in detail with all family members prior to this visit.
Procedures which may be completed during the 30-minute examination include:
- Comprehensive physical exam by your veterinarian.
- Complete blood count.
- Serum chemistry profile including electrolytes.
- Complete urine analysis including sediment examination.
- Breed appropriate checks for glaucoma with an electronic tonometer.
- Electrocardiogram will evaluate for abnormal heart rhythms.
- Weight by digital scale.
- All appropriate vaccinations will be completed during the visit.
A follow-up phone consultation with your veterinarian will discuss the results of all tests. Additional testing may be indicated based on the results of this evaluation. The cost of any additional testing or any treatment is not included in this program.
This new standard of care for seniors gives pets longer, happier and healthier lives - and allows you to continue the bond that keeps your lives together happy.