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While they don't need the constant care of puppies and kittens, senior pets have special medical needs and concern all their own. Pets become seniors somewhere between 7 and 10 years of age, and larger pets generally reach that status before smaller ones. As your pet grows older, its lifestyle will probably change along with its health. A pet wellness exam is an important part of your pet's yearly health plan. Our Southington veterinary team advises that you bring your senior pet into our office at least once a year. Your pet can't tell you about most health problems it might have; a wellness exam is the best way to diagnose any potential troubles.
Just as humans are more likely to develop many physical problems as they get older, senior pets are more liable to encounter a long list of conditions that affect their quality of life. Among the most common problems with senior pets are:
Dental care is of particular concern with senior pets. During a wellness exam our veterinarian will examine your pet's teeth, gums, and tongue, looking for redness and swelling. Loose teeth can be a sign of nutritional problems or disease, and bad breath isn't always what most folks call “doggy breath”. If you aren't in the habit of brushing or cleaning your pet's teeth on a regular basis, our doctor will teach you how to do it and advise you about how you can calmly and effectively care for your pet's dental health.
Obesity is a problem with many senior pets. They get tired easier so they aren't as active and don't burn off as many calories as they did when they were younger. In addition, many pets have had a lifetime of sisters who may not want to finish their dinners. If your pet is overweight we can give you nutritional counseling as well as lifestyle advice for getting your pet to be more active and fit. The problem of obesity is just as serious with dogs and cats as it is with humans, with a similar toll on health and estimated lifespan.
Your pet's behavior can be an important diagnostic key when it comes to its wellness exam. More frequent urination or thirst can be a sign of diabetes, Difficulty in moving or reluctance to jump onto furniture as before can be a sign of arthritis or other joint problems. Obesity is a gradual process, but if your pet gains or loses a large amount of weight in a short amount of time, this can be a sign of serious disease. All of these behaviors can help our veterinarians when they examine your dog or cat. Also, it is extremely helpful if you communicate any possible problems that you have concerns about or have noticed. Make a list so you remember at the exam. We promise to listen carefully to your input.