Could my pet be hiding something?

Most of us know that the average pet ages the equivalent of approximately 5-7 human years every 12 months. So while an annual visit to the vet may seem to be the norm for many of us, it’s amazing to consider just how much can change for a pet over one year between visits.

As our pets age, the risk of them suffering from health problems increases year by year. Many chronic conditions that occur more frequently with advancing age are silent (or ‘sub-clinical’) at first. Just like us, diagnosing and treating problems early offers the best chance for successful management.

It is for this reason, along with a visit to the vet for a thorough physical exam and discussion of any concerns you have, that we consider a yearly blood and urine screening test to be an important part of looking after your furry family member. Chronic and otherwise undetectable health problems can be found at any age, but in particular, we feel that checking for these in pets over the age of seven is very important.

Consider the following facts:

  • 78% of dogs over 3 years have dental disease
  • 50% of dogs over 10 have arthritis
  • 10% of dogs over 10 have kidney disease
  • 12% of all dogs have chronic liver disease
  • 12% of all dogs have a hormonal disease (e.g. Cushing’s, diabetes, hypothyroidism)
  • 6.5% of dogs have stones in their bladder
  • 30% of cats over 10 have chronic kidney disease
  • 50% of cats over 15 have chronic kidney disease
  • 5% of cats over 10 have hyperthyroidism
  • It is estimated that 60-90% of senior and geriatric cats have arthritis
  • 32% of all pets die from cancer related disease

As you can see, there are many chronic health conditions that occur commonly in our older pets. The list above is not even the full story, but just a few examples. What is most important is that where these and other conditions are diagnosed early, hopefully before clinical signs appear, they can always be much better managed.

A visit to the vet should include a thorough physical examination. In addition, your vet should take a history and consider your pet’s age and lifestyle – these will often provide clues as to their general health and wellbeing and any potential problems which may not be obvious. A screening blood and urine test is a great way to gather a huge amount of extra information about how your pet’s body systems are functioning. If you are wondering whether this might be a good idea for your pet, be sure to discuss this with one of our vets at your next visit to the clinic.

More about older pets

We have gathered some great information on the most common conditions older pets face in the Old Pets section of our Pet Health Library.

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