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Pets reach their years much more rapidly than humans do, and as they age, they become more vulnerable to a variety of age-related illnesses. At Apple Valley Veterinarians, we are happy to provide senior pet exams for animals in Plantsville, Southington, and Hartford County, Connecticut.
What qualifies as "senior" in the pet world? For most cats and dogs, the senior years are considered to begin around the 7-year mark, although large dog breeds may become geriatric by age 5 (because of their shorter average lifespans). As your pet passes this milestone, you may begin to notice signs of aging, such as a graying of the muzzle.
You may also notice health problems such as joint stiffness (from arthritis), the clouding of the eyes that signifies cataracts, hearing problems, or incontinence. Older, less mobile pets also tend to burn fewer calories. This can lead to obvious obesity, a dangerous condition that makes your pet even more prone to diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and other issues common in senior animals. These additional risks and concerns mean that your aging pet needs some special attention even above and beyond the care necessary for younger adult pets.
Our vet center urges pet owners to schedule senior pet exams every six months -- twice the frequency of the typical annual wellness exam. Your veterinarian on our team will perform detailed lab tests to check for signs of cancer, thyroid disease, kidney failure, or any viruses that have made their way past a weakened immune system. We also check the teeth and gums for damage or periodontal disease, a common problem in older animals. In addition to evaluating your pet's hearing and vision, we will study his stance, gait, mobility, and cognitive awareness, making any necessary treatment recommendations.
Preventative care can greatly improve a senior pet's quality of life. For instance, gentle exercise can help your pet avoid obesity and control arthritis. Tooth brushing can help control periodontal disease, while nutritional/dietary adjustments can help manage or prevent age-related issues. Small household changes can make it easier and more comfortable for your pet to get around.
Your pet's senior years can be happy, healthy ones with the aid of Apple Valley Veterinarians. Call 860-628-9635 to schedule a senior pet exam with any veterinarian on our team!