There main categories of senior health assessment for senior dogs and cats: physical examination, complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, thyroid hormone testing, urinalysis, and blood pressure checking. Comprehensive testing is recommended for senior dogs and cats, due to the higher risk of underlying disease.
Physical examination. A physical exam is a critically important part of the senior health assessment check-up. All body systems are assessed to check for any abnormalities. It is during the physical exam that we check a pet's general well-being and measure your pet’s current status against past exam findings as well as norms for the breed, age, and gender.
Complete Blood Count (CBC). This blood test gives information about the different cell types in the blood. These include red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues; white blood cells, which fight infection and respond to inflammation; and platelets, which help the blood to clot. The CBC provides details about the number, size, and shape of the various cell types, and identifies the presence of any abnormal cells. It is a routine test used in all stages of health and illness and can indicate the presence of many forms of disease.
Biochemistry Profile. This is a panel of tests that provides information about the organs and tissues of the body, and helps to detect diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, and other disorders. If minor abnormalities are found on the biochemistry profile, we may suggest that the tests be repeated in a few days, weeks, or months. If the abnormalities are more serious a more extensive diagnostic workup may be recommended, including an expanded biochemistry profile, blood pressure assessment, and imaging tests including radiographs (X-rays) or ultrasound.
Thyroid Testing. The thyroid gland acts like a thermostat and sets the metabolic rate of the whole body. The most common thyroid disease in the dog is hypothyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone, and in the cat is hyperthyroidism, which occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone.
Urinalysis. Urinalysis is a routine test that reports the physical and chemical properties of a pet’s urine. Urinalysis provides information about how well the kidneys are working and identifies inflammation and infection in the urinary system. It can also help to detect diabetes and can be useful in the diagnosis of cancer within the urinary system. Urinalysis is part of a complete assessment of the kidneys and urinary system and should be included in routine senior health assessment. It is particularly important for senior and geriatric dogs and cats because of the higher occurrence of kidney disease in older dogs and cats.
Blood pressure. Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure, which is a common problem in people, and also now recognised as a common condition in older cats.
Senior health assessment is a simple and effective way of monitoring your older dog’s and cat's health. Early detection and correction of medical problems can help to ensure that your pet will be healthy and active for as long as possible.
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