Senior Wellness Care

Most of us don’t think of aging as something to celebrate, but having a senior pet means you have had a special friend in your life for quite a while. You must have taken excellent care of your pet to have gotten this far, and we hope you will let us make the transition into the “Golden Years” an easier one for you and your best friend.

We are excited to offer you an opportunity to take advantage of our Senior Care Program. As our pets age, they do stumble across some problems. As a team, our doctors and staff are here to help detect, manage and control these problems.

Some things we monitor for in our senior patients include:

  • Glaucoma
  • Thyroid disease
  • Arthritis
  • Dental disease
  • Liver and kidney problems
  • Heart disease
  • Senility
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Diabetes         

There are other problems that may develop, however these are the most common. The good news is that all of these problems can be detected and if caught early enough, successfully managed. This is why we recommend early detection starting at 7 years of age.

It is important to remember that the needs of our pets change as they age, just as ours do. Our human doctors recommend more frequent visits, blood work and other diagnostics, as well as having our eyes and teeth checked more often as we age. Our pet’s age a lot faster than we do, so we have to be prepared to make the necessary changes sooner. 

Senior Pet Awareness 

Where to begin? The first step is to figure out how old your pet is. The chart below will help. Use the age and weight of your pet to find out how old they are.  As you can see the larger your pet is the sooner they reach that senior age.

So, how old is your pet? Are they considered senior? Geriatric? or is your pet about to transition from his/her adult years to their senior years? No matter what the age of your pet proper diet, vitamins, regular exercise and routine medical checkups should be a basic part of their lives.

The fact that our pets age more rapidly than we do allows diseases and other health problems to develop more rapidly also. Our best defense against these health problems are awareness and prevention. If we can spot the warning signs early on, we can help ensure our pet a smooth transition from their adult years to their senior years.


Some warning signs that may indicate your pet is beginning to suffer from age related problems are:

Health CategoryExamples of Common Senior DiseasesSignsIf Left Untreated
DentalPeriodontal disease, gingivitis, cancerBad breath, red or swollen gums, masses, trouble eating/chewingHeart disease, tooth loss, kidney and liver disorder, systemic infection, cancer progression
JointsArthritis, hip dysplasia, back diseaseLameness, reluctance to walk or exercise, decreased appetite, discomfort/painProgressive disease, reduced mobility, neurologic deficits
Heart and LungsCardiac disease, pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysemaDecreased stamina, coughing, difficulty breathing, weight loss, pot bellyProgression to renal and liver disease, poor vascular profusion, eventual death
Endocrine SystemDiabetes, thyroid disorders, Cushing, AddisonsNoticeable weight change, increased appetite without weight gain, vomiting, increased water consumption, frequent urination, change in energy levelHeart failure, kidney failure, secondary metabolic disease
LiverInflammatory, degenerative and cancerous liver diseaseDecreased appetite, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst/urinationHypo-albumineria, lipid metabolism disturbance, anemia, bleeding disorders, liver failure
KidneyKidney failure, kidney stones, kidney infection, kidney insufficiencyIncreased thirst/urination decreased appetite, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, back painProgression to kidney failure, heart disease, electrolyte upset, fluid balance disturbance, death
CancerCancers of the skin, liver, spleen, lymphoid tissue etc.Bleeding, lumps, irritated skin, identified mass, swollen lymph nodes, vomiting, diarrheaCan progress to organ failure or death
OcularCataracts, dry eye, glaucomaGrey bluish hue at the center of the eye, rubbing, pressing head against objects, swelling, redness, irritation, tearingDifficulty seeing, corneal ulceration, can progress to blindness, loss of eye
Gastro-intestinal DiseaseInflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, cancer, colitisVomiting diarrhea, weight loss, fluid gainFurther weight loss, disease will progress to potential death

The good news is that most of these problems are controllable IF caught early on.  Although you can't turn back the clock, there are things you can do to keep your older pets healthy and YOUNG-AT-HEART. A Senior Pet Wellness Exam and Senior Blood work is one step you and your pet can take on the road to a comfortable old age.

So what is "Senior blood work"? Senior blood work can help us detect hidden issues that may not be observable in your furry family members. It can be used to establish a baseline for comparison to blood work that was previously performed or may be performed at a future visit.  The blood work is either sent out to a lab or run in hospital, and we can usually provide you the results within a day or two.  We recommend senior blood work once a year for all senior pets.

Senior blood work tests include a CBC, (Complete Blood Count) Blood Chemistry, and a T4 (Thyroid Profile).  We also recommend a urine sample for a urinalysis.  All of these tests work harmoniously to see just how well your pet's body is functioning.

Here is what we are checking in your pet…

  • CBC – This provides information on the red and white blood cell counts, as well as platelet counts.  A CBC helps us to detect such issues as anemia, infection, or potential bleeding disorders.
  • Blood Chemistry – This checks various enzymes, liver and kidney values, and a blood glucose level as well.  The following are checked in the Blood Chemistry:
  • Albumin (ALB) - Protein produced by the liver.  Lowered levels may suggest chronic liver, kidney, or intestinal disease.
  • Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) – Elevated levels of this enzyme can coexist with liver disease or injury.
  • Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP) – Enzyme found in liver and bone tissues.  Liver disease, Cushing’s syndrome, or steroid therapy can be indicated from elevated levels.
  • Amylase (AMYL) – Pancreatic enzyme which aids in digestion.  Higher levels may point to pancreatic disease.
  • Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)– Produced by the liver and excreted by the kidneys.  If elevated, it can indicate kidney disease or dehydration.  If low, it could suggest liver disease.
  • Calcium – Elevated levels can be associated with kidney or parathyroid diseases, or even be a sign of certain types of tumors.
  • Cholesterol (CHOL) –High levels are seen in a number of disorders, which could be liver or kidney disease or hypothyroidism.
  • Creatinine (CREA) – Muscle metabolism by-product, and is excreted by kidneys.  If these levels are high, it could mean kidney disease, dehydration, or urinary tract obstruction.
  • Blood Glucose (GLU) - Most often a sign of diabetes when high (but could also just be stress!), however; could also suggest liver disease, infection, or even certain tumors if the levels are low.
  • Phosphorus (PHOS) – Could point to kidney disease if elevated.
  • Total Bilirubin (TBIL) – These levels are useful in indicating liver disease and may even lend a hand in characterizing anemia.  Bilirubin is a breakdown product of hemoglobin, and is also a component of bile.
  • Total Protein (TP) – This can indicate an assortment of conditions, including diseases of the kidney, liver, or intestine, or dehydration.
  • Urinalysis – Urine contains by-products from many organs filtered through the kidneys.  Abnormal levels can indicate diabetes, urinary tract disease, kidney or liver diseases.
  • T4 (Thyroid Test) – A thyroid profile is very important for if left untreated, thyroid disease can have a severe impact on your cat or dog’s health.  We need to be sure that thyroid function is normal.

If your pet is a senior or geriatric pet, it is very important to ensure that their entire body is working in harmony by being devoted to the care of your pet, and the prevention of serious illnesses. It is important to perform this exceptionally key blood work for ensuring your pet’s good health.


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Our Funkstown veterinarians offer a wide variety of pet care services including spay and neutering, general exams, vaccinations, and much more. Contact Animal Health Clinic of Funkstown today to schedule an appointment at our Funkstown, Maryland veterinary office.

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