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Posted on 11-07-2016

As you may already know, cats and dogs age faster than humans do. “Senior” status depends on an individual basis but The American Veterinary Medicine Association, along with most other organizations, consider a pet to be senior at about 7 years old. Just like humans, as pets age they start to develop more health concerns. Taking care of your senior pet may not be easy, but as your friendly, community veterinarian, we’re here to help.

There are many different problems that could be affecting your senior pet, many of which can be present without any signs or symptoms until the disease is quite advanced. As always, preventative care is the best care! Early detection can help make adjustments in diet, medicine, or lifestyle that could make a significant difference in your pet’s well being. Here are the most common problems found in senior dogs and cats.

Dogs

  • Cushing’s Disease (Overactive adrenal glands)

  • Decreased kidney function

  • Hypothyroidism (Underactive thyroid)

  • Diabetes

  • Liver Disease

Cats

  • Lipidosis (Fatty Liver)

  • Decreased kidney function

  • Diabetes

  • Hyperthyroidism (Overactive thyroid)

All of these conditions are manageable with medicine and/or changes in diet but only if they are detected with time. The next time you take your senior pet for his or her wellness check-up, ask your doctor about conducting a senior blood work panel to check for any of these problems. After blood has been drawn, it is usually separated in to two different samples, one with a lavender top and one with a red top. The red top is usually allowed to clot so that the fluid or serum can be tested for levels of certain chemicals and enzymes. This helps your veterinarian look how your senior pet’s internal organs are functioning and if they need attention. The lavender-topped tubes contain a chemical that will not allow the blood to clot. The red blood cells are usually separated from the white ones and counted for something that is called a CBC, or a complete blood count. A review of the blood can also be requested for a clinical pathologist to perform. A lot can be determined form the look, shape or condition of your pet’s blood cells! Most veterinary hospitals either have the ability to do it in house or send it out to a lab where a doctor who specializes in the matter takes care of everything. If the results are sent to a lab, they will typically take 24-48 hours to come back for your veterinarian to interpret and choose an appropriate course of action. Sometimes the results can come back without any significant abnormalities which means your pet is doing very well and to keep up his current lifestyle. Other times, further diagnostics may be required depending on what the results show.

The cost of blood work can vary depending on the type but if you’re interested in a Senior Total Body Function panel, the cost at Animal Hospital of Lake Villa is about $111 (Prices may vary as years progress, this is an estimate as of Nov 2016). If your pet has been to his or her routing preventative check up, then one of our assistants can draw the blood and send it to the lab. Otherwise, a veterinary exam may be required to help determine the best panel for your senior. Pets should come in fasted, meaning no food or treats for 8-12 hours prior to the blood draw but water is completely fine to give.

In honor of Diabetes Awareness Month, we will be offering 10% off all Total Body Function panels thru the month of November. Give us a call at (847) 356-8487 for more information or to book your senior pet’s appointment today!

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