Janssen Veterinary Clinic (JVC) recommends beginning yearly early detection testing before your pet reaches middle age to obtain a base line for when the pet enters its senior years. It is recommended to do early detection blood work every year on all of your pets in addition to the annual fecal and heartworm test.

What defines a senior?

Your pet’s age relative to humans is based on their size and breed specific traits.

A grid showing the relative ages of dogs and cats in "human years."

How is the annual exam different for a senior pet?

Physical Exam

This is the first line of prevention for your senior pet.  Studies show that two senior wellness physical exams yearly would be beneficial to the health of your companion. Senior wellness exams every 6 months is equivalent to human annuals every 2 to 3 years.

The physical exam includes:

  • Vital signs: temperature, pulse, respiration, and pain assessment
  • Risk factor analysis: which is based on the breed, lifestyle, and use of the pet.
  • Physical condition: weight gain or loss, condition of teeth and gums.
  • Evaluation of skin, coat, claw, detection and assessment of lumps and bumps
  • Hydration status: Is your pet appropriately hydrated?
  • Abdominal palpation, especially the size and shape of kidneys and liver
  • Evaluation of heart and lung sounds; heart rate and rhythm; pulse rate and quality, lung clear of fluid sounds, and efficient air movement.
  • Orthopedic examination: mobility, gait, range of motion, weakness, pain, muscle mass, arthritis

Blood Work

Senior blood work is a more extensive panel to check a complete blood count, blood chemistry, organ function, thyroid panel, and a urinalysis. JVC advises doing this panel at least annually to detect any conditions before they develop further.

Preventative Care

A lot of the preventative care begins with you, the owner. There are many things you can do at home to aid in the care and well-being of the senior companion.

Dental Appointments

Dental preventative care through water additives, dental chew, and etc. Check out our page on canine and feline dentals for further information.

Diet and Nutrition

This can include supplements such as fish oil, glucosamine/chondroitin, and etc. Discuss appropriate supplements with the veterinarian before starting.

Weight Control

Monitoring of weight gain (especially in the dog) or loss (especially in the cat).

Parasite Control

Heartworm and Flea prevention monthly is a must for all ages. Parasite control is also important for all ages.

Risk Assessment for Common Conditions of Senior Patients

  • Arthritis
  • Dental Disease
  • Thyroid Disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Cancer