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Pets are living longer than ever before thanks to advances in veterinary medicine and care. With this increased lifespan, however, comes increased susceptibility to illness and disease. By early recognition of our pets aging processes, we can more quickly take the necessary action to ensure that their golden years are quality years.

Around the age of 7, most pets are considered to be senior citizens, although this actual number may vary depending on species, size, and breed. Smaller breeds of dogs generally live longer than larger breeds, reaching senior status later in life. Cats may live even longer, and some cats will reach into the 20s. As pets age so relatively quickly, it is important that our senior pets be examined frequently. One year is roughly the equivalent of five to seven human years! It is therefore recommended that senior pets have a wellness exam performed every six months.

Senior wellness exams include lab work. Establishing baseline test values for both blood and urine can provide invaluable information for even a seemingly healthy pet, as subtle changes in the results are often the first detectable sign of illness. When discovered early, many conditions are far more easily managed and some may even be completely resolved. With our full in-house diagnostic laboratory, the staff at the Animal Hospital by the Sea can perform laboratory screening tests quickly, often while you wait. Semi-annual checkups are also a great time to discuss difficulties or alterations in your pet’s life, such as any behavior or mobility changes. We will also be happy to go over the differences in nutritional and exercise requirements for your pets as they age and review the best way to manage any chronic illnesses that can afflict the elderly.


We will check your pet’s general appearance, temperature, body weight, heart, lungs, ears, eyes, thyroid glands, and skin. We’ll also give your pet a thorough oral exam to ensure his or her teeth and gums are healthy.


This test aids in the detection and diagnosis of infections, anemia, bleeding problems, and cancer. It also provides clues about the status of your pet’s immune system.


This is used in order to assess the function of the liver, kidneys, and pancreas, along with other organs. It is also used for early diagnosis of diseases, such as diabetes.


A urine sample will be checked for evidence of infection and to further assess kidney function.


A fecal sample will be examined for evidence of parasites and protozoa.


A blood pressure measurement will be taken to determine if systemic hypertension is present.

Depending upon your pet’s health and whether he or she has an ongoing condition, we may recommend more frequent wellness exams and blood work.


In addition to conducting pet health screenings, we will review your pet’s vaccination schedule to make sure that he or she is current.

Since your senior pet’s dietary needs will change over time, we will provide pet nutrition counseling as well. Senior pets require fewer calories because they are less active. A diet that is high in fiber and enriched with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and beta-carotene will go a long way toward enhancing your senior pet’s health and well-being. Keeping your pet at the proper weight will also lower his or her chances of developing diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and more.

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