Pets have a faster metabolism than people. Age related conditions begin much earlier in their lives than in ours. Some pets will live to be 15 or more years old, without having any significant health issues, but most pets will start developing changes much earlier. It can be difficult to determine when changes are occurring in our pets if the changes come on slowly. Pets are so forgiving of us. Unless they are in severe pain or distress, they may not bring their needs to our attention. Many pets are stoic, particularly when in their home environment.
There are so many conditions that hinder or disable a pet, and we may just think they are lazy or old'. Their changes in vitality can occur so slowly that we do not realize their physical shortcomings that are causing these changes. In fact, with some of the more exuberant breeds, we may actually look forward to the pets quieting, or demanding less of us for physical exercise. In fact, the pet may have a condition that is causing pain or lethargy that can be controlled, or the progress of the disease can be delayed.
Skin diseases are common in dogs and some cats. If your pet smells or if you would not like to cuddle up and sleep with your pet, there may be a skin disease that we can help clear up, and control. Some skin conditions are caused by metabolic or endocrine disease.
Diseases such as arthritis or intervertebral disc disease can creep up so slowly, that the pet just accepts it as best as possible. I mean, who are they to tell? We do not listen well to their needs. Or we misinterpret their communications. They may not even know we can help them. It is only when the pet is stimulated, or so happy with a chance to bounce around, that they over-exercise, and soon we discover the pain our pets may be in daily. Just like us, when there is something that we really want to do, our pain (or brains) may subside from the adrenaline surging through our bodies, so we overdo' it. We may hurt, or may not even be able to move the next day. This happens to dogs all the time (from my point of view).
Cats may suffer from arthritis or back problems also. Does your cat not jump up onto higher surfaces any more? Do you really think that is because they are well trained? That may be the case, but, being a cat owner, I have to suspect that the truth is more likely in a physical reason.
We can detect arthritis and skeletal pain from the information you give, our physical exam and x-rays. X-rays are commonly used to assess the exact sites of arthritis, its degree of severity or its staging, and assist us in determining the best course of treatment.
Heart disease is common in both dogs and cats. Unfortunately, in cats, the disease may be completely silent until an emergency situation develops. Heart disease in dogs usually has early symptoms. A slight cough starts, particularly at night. The dog may not want to finish their usual walk or regular exercise. Signs may be so subtle and may appear as several other diseases appear. Eventually, the cough may worsen or the pet may even collapse. The pet may lose their appetite; have trouble sleeping at night and start living in a stressful state.
Kidney and lower urinary tract infections may go undetected until significant damage has occurred. Urinary tract disorders are common in both dogs and cats. Many times, owners are unaware until the pet urinates in too many inappropriate places- then the owners finally seek assistance. The progression of kidney disease can be slowed given proper care. Many lower urinary problems can be completely corrected, or in the case of incontinence, controlled with medication.
Kidney and lower urinary tract disease are detected with an exam, blood work and a urinalysis. X-rays are used to detect stones or tumors.
Endocrine diseases are common in both cats and dogs. Endocrine disease involves glands that produce hormones. These are typically very slow starting diseases, but many times are not easily detectable on physical exam, until the disease is overt and significantly progressed. These diseases are typically treatable. However, the earlier they are detected, the less damage to the body that occurs. Each disease can affect multiple organ systems. Common endocrine diseases include hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, diabetes mellitus, and hyperadrenalcortisism. These diseases are detected with information you tell us, examinations, blood and urine analysis.
Dental disease is common in all pets, but seems to worsen with age, or neglect. Dental disease can provide a route for bacteria to enter into the blood stream, leading to heart disease, eye infections, sinus infections, kidney disease, anorexia, and many other problems. Dental care is available to pets of all ages. It is ultimately important to maintaining overall good health.
Cancers are common in geriatric pets. Some we can surgically remove if discovered early enough, some we can treat. In other cases we can provide supportive care for the pet (and you) until humane euthanasia is the best option.
Many older dogs suffer from Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, which is similar to senility in humans. A lack of a neurotransmitter can be causing this. Treatment is available. Many people feel they have got their dog back' once treatment is started.
Did you know we can help with many behavioral problems? Separation anxiety is common in dogs, but can be treated and controlled. If you wish to have us help you with behavior problems, please let our receptionist know when your next appointment is scheduled, to allow enough time to collect background information on the pet and other pertinent data as needed.
All of the above diseases are detectable before an animal requires emergency care. Having worked in emergency medicine for 5 years, I would see these diseases after the pet has collapsed, or is severely compromised. I would like to help your pet not ever need emergency or extended hospitalized care. For one reason, I wish for the pets to not feel lethargic, or painful. For another reason, I wish that you and your pet are not separated either temporarily during required hospitalization, or permanently in an unplanned and premature euthanasia.
You know, if all seems and looks well, and lab values are normal, you can feel good knowing your pet is feeling good.
I have come to the realization that many pets do better with nutritional supplement. There are some great foods out there, but some substances do not blend well with the regular diet, and supplementation is beneficial. I feel if we start supplementation relatively early in life, that our pets will have stronger organs, and healthier tissues overall. Some pets do not digest and absorb nutrients well, and may benefit from digestive enzymes. I am learning more all the time about this subject. I provide nutritional supplements to my cats and dogs.
Come prepared for your appointments with answers to the following questions:
What do you feed your pet?
Have you noticed any weight changes?
Does your pet drink a normal amount of water?
How is his/her appetite?
Is there any exercise intolerance? (not wanting to finish a
Is the hair coat standard for the breed? Has the hair coat
Does your dog or cat seem lethargic all the time?
Does your cat seem to have increased activity?
Is there more urine or more frequent urination or defecation than before?
Is there any urine leakage?
Is there any straining to urinate or defecate?
How is pet's breath? Fresh and sweet?, or garbage breath?
Does your pet cough or sneeze?
Are there any eye or nose discharges?
Are the ears clean and healthy looking and smelling?
Is there any lameness?
Are there any lumps or bumps that we have not previously diagnosed?
Does your pet respond to you the same as before?
Greeting you when you come home, still wanting to participate in your family's activities?
We have prepared this summary for you to allow you to consider your pet prior to your next visit. In addition to the physical examination, evaluation of blood and urine allows us to determine if your pet is still in great physical condition, or if there are changes occurring. We can make informed recommendations for your pet to help keep him or her with you, comfortable and happy, for as long as possible. If, for whatever reason, you do not wish these evaluations, please let us know.
Click on this link to visit Antech Diagnostic's website. Antech is the external laboratory that we use. They have further information on lab testing and well pet care.