Why Senior Dog Wellness Checkups Are Important
It’s a no-brainer – you take your dog to the vet when he gets sick. But is that the only time you take your dog in for a check-up? You may have been able to get away from regular vet visits before, but as your dog gets older, it’s important to take him to the vet every six to eight months.
The Importance of Preventive Medicine
You have probably heard the saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and that definitely applies to the health and wellness of senior dogs. In the same way that humans become more fragile as they age, so does your dog. A spry young dog may be able to fight off a disease-causing pathogen as if he were swatting away a fly, but an older dog’s immune system might not be as strong and the same pathogen could end up making him sick.
Related: Palliative Care For Older Dogs
Preventive medicine includes things like routine screenings, lifestyle modifications, and physical exams can help to catch health problems in the early stages before they become a major issue. The sooner your senior dog receives treatment for a condition, the more likely he is to make a full recovery. Regular senior wellness checkups are the best way to implement preventive medicine for your aging dog.
What is Included in a Senior Wellness Checkup?
Most veterinarians recommend two check-ups per year for healthy dogs. As your dog gets older, you may want to consider making those check-ups more regular. Here are some of the things your veterinarian might do during your senior dog’s wellness check-ups:
- Physical Exam: This should be a portion of every veterinary exam, regardless your dog’s age. Your vet will check all of your dog’s body systems for abnormalities – he will also check your dog’s weight, body condition, muscle tone, and joint range of motion.
- Blood Chemistry: Blood tests can be used to check on your dog’s electrolyte status, hormone levels, organ function, and more. A Complete Blood Count (CBC) is another type of blood test that can be used to check for infections, anemia, and immune problems.
- Urinalysis: This particular test is done to check the health status of your dog’s urinary tract which includes his bladder and kidneys. The results of a urinalysis can also be used to confirm a diagnosis of liver problems, diabetes, and other diseases depending what substances are found in your dog’s urine.
- Eye Exam: Many dogs develop eye problems as they get older so your vet should do an eye exam to check for things like glaucoma, cataracts, retinal problems, and more.
- Blood Pressure: Another important part of your senior dog’s wellness check-up is a blood pressure check. Hypertension (high blood pressure) can increase your dog’s risk for heart disease, kidney problems, blindness, and more.
- X-Rays: An x-ray can be used for more than just broken bones. A chest x-ray, for example, can reveal problems with your dog’s heart and lungs while abdominal x-rays can be used to check on his kidneys and liver. If your dog has had musculoskeletal issues in the past, your vet might want an x-ray to see how things are healing.
As your dog gets older he is likely to slow down and his immune system may not be as capable of protecting him against illness. Keeping up with routine senior wellness check-ups is essential for maintaining your older dog’s health and wellness.
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.
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