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6 Questions to Ask At Your Senior Pet's Next Check Up

As your pet grows older, he or she may develop a range of diseases and conditions associated with aging, such as obesity, diabetes, arthritis and kidney disease. Despite the health problems often associated with aging, your pet can enjoy a full life if you're familiar with the signs and symptoms of common health problems. By partnering with your pet's veterinarian, you'll learn to identify potential signs of trouble. Take a look at these six questions you'll want to ask the vet the next time you visit.

Is My Pet Too Thin or Too Heavy?

It's normal for pets to become less active as they grown older. Unfortunately, a decline in activity can lead to weight gain and increase your pet's risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis and other conditions. If your pet is obese or overweight, his or her veterinarian may recommend more exercise, a reduction in portion sizes, a change in diet or other modifications.

Some pets become thinner as they get older. In some cases, they might appear thinner due to a decrease in muscle mass, but may be perfectly healthy. In others, weight loss may be a symptom of an underlying illness, such as diabetes. If the veterinarian is concerned that an illness may be responsible for the weight loss, he or she may recommend blood or other tests.

Does My Pet Need Dental Work?

Tooth decay and gum disease can cause pain, difficulty chewing, bad breath and red, inflamed gums. If dental problems aren't treated promptly, your pet may lose teeth or develop a bacterial infection. Dental infections are dangerous because they can travel to other areas of your pet's body. Your pet's veterinarian may recommend dental work, if needed, and/or a thorough cleaning to remove plaque and tartar.

How Can I Tell If My Pet Has Arthritis?

It's hard to be your usual playful self when your joints ache with every step you take. Luckily, arthritis, a common joint condition in older pets, can often be managed with anti-inflammatory and pain medications. Your pet's veterinarian can share common signs of arthritis, such as difficulty walking or jumping and stiffness, and may also suggest a few things you can do to make your pet more comfortable at home. Installing a ramp to your bed if your pet sleeps with you, buying a litter box with low sides, helping your cat with grooming or giving your pet massages can make living with arthritis easier for pets.

What Are the Signs of Potential Health Problems?

It would certainly be much easier if pets could tell us when a leg hurts or they don't feel well, but since they can't talk, it's important to pay attention to possible signs of health problems, such as:

  • Changes in elimination habits (accidents, frequent urination, constipation, reduced urination, etc.)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Lethargy or lack of interest in usual activities
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irritability or other behavioral changes
  • Stiffness, lameness or difficulty walking
  • Seizures
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Lumps or sores
  • Coat or skin changes
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Discharge or bleeding from nose, eyes or other parts of the body
  • Redness or swelling of the gums

My Pet Seems Confused at Times. Is This Normal?

Dementia is another condition that pets share with people. In fact, behavioral changes in older pets may actually be caused by the condition. You may notice that your cat meows continually or that your dog barks randomly. Pets that have dementia may lose interest in regular activities, stop interacting with you and other pets, pace back and forth, become lost and disoriented in your home, spend long periods staring or have housetraining accidents.

Should My Pet Have a Blood Test?

Blood tests often detect common diseases before you pet shows any symptoms. An annual or semi-annual blood test can determine if your pet has diabetes, or liver, thyroid or kidney disease. Early identification of these diseases can help prevent complications.

Although older pets require more attention and care, they can continue to live happy lives with your assistance. If it's time for your furry friend's next visit to the veterinarian, give us a call.

Sources:

VetStreet: 7 Questions Owners Ask About Older Pets, 8/11/15

http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/7-questions-owners-ask-about-older-pets

AVMA: Senior Pet Care

https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Caring-for-an-Older-Pet-FAQs.aspx

PetEducation.com: Normal Aging and Expected Changes in Older (Senior, Geriatric Dogs

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2110&aid=614

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: The Special Needs of the Senior Cat

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/Health_Information/brochure_seniorcat.cfm

AVMA: Arthritis in Pets

https://www.avma.org/news/pressroom/pages/arthritis-in-pets-video.aspx

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Testimonials

  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

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    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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