Seeing that your aging dog receives regular expert vet care is vital in maintaining its good health. Regular checkups and preventive veterinary care can add years to the life of an older dog.
Many pet dogs are living longer lives due to early diagnosis of diseases and quicker treatments. Early intervention in a disease means the dog has a better chance of recovering and living a longer life. Most veterinary clinics and animal hospitals have special preventive care programs for older dogs. These programs may go under the moniker of “geriatric wellness programs,” or “senior care programs.” These exams usually include blood tests, urine tests, stool tests, and x-rays.
A dog’s health is partly determined by the health of its parents when conception occurred. The rest is up to the dog’s owner. A dog should have the necessary vaccinations, proper nutrition, good dental care, heartworm prevention, and other professional vet care during its life because all of these will have a direct bearing on a dog’s health as it ages. The healthier a dog is while growing up, the better its chances of being healthy as it grows older.
Appointments with a veterinarian usually include measuring the dog’s weight each visit. Any rapid or unexplained weight gain or weight loss is often the first sign of disease. Regular visits to the vet should be a part of every dog’s health care. It’s also very important to follow the vet’s recommendations on the proper feeding of older dogs. This helps ensure the dog is receiving the correct nutrition as it ages, and assists in preventing obesity which is one of the most common and preventable diseases in older dogs.
Older dogs should receive regular physical exams. How often these exams should be given depends a lot on the health of the dog; but older dogs, no matter their health status, should be examined by a vet at least once a year. Some older dogs who are diagnosed with health problems will need more visits with the veterinarian.
A physical assessment of the dog will include an examination of the mouth, teeth, gums, tongue, and throat. A rectal exam is also a part of the examination of an aging dog. The veterinarian will examine the inner pelvic area, the lining of the colon, check the dog’s lymph nodes, and the prostate in male dogs.
The physical exam will also include checking the dog’s skin and ears for ticks, fleas, or mites. Heartworm prevention is another important treatment for dogs of all ages but more so for aging dogs. Heartworm medications are available at all pet stores so it’s not difficult to prevent this disease.
If a dog shows any warning signs of heart, lung, kidney, or liver disease, X-rays will need to be taken. When a dog grows older and is still healthy, an X-ray of its chest and abdomen should be taken in case the dog later develops signs of disease. An X-ray taken when the dog was in good health can be compared to a new X-ray and will be valuable in diagnosing any symptoms the dog exhibits.
Owners of senior dogs should understand that the immune system of an older dog is not as strong as it was when the dog was younger, so it’s imperative that an aging dog be kept up-to-date on its vaccinations.
The problem of trying to control an animal’s pain must be handled by the vet. There are medications available that can help relieve pain in older dogs and make their lives a little more comfortable.
Older dogs need expert vet care to help prevent disease and to diagnose any health problems that can be treated and cured with the proper care. A veterinarian is the best partner a dog owner can have for keeping their dog healthy and making its senior years pleasurable.