Your senior pet’s interests and behaviors have probably changed through the years. What once sparked a frenzy of tail wagging and leaping now barely merits a raised eyebrow. Similarly, your aging pet’s health needs have changed. While their early veterinary care at the Animal Hospital of Stoney Creek was devoted to disease and illness prevention, our focus has shifted to disease detection and management.

Annual wellness testing at our hospital is a simple and powerful way to monitor your senior pet’s health and identify hidden illness and disease early. If we detect a problem, we can provide prompt and targeted care to preserve and prolong their quality of life. 

Why is annual wellness testing important for senior pets?

Senior pets generally have weaker immune systems than younger pets, meaning that when they experience a health condition—including problems well tolerated in healthy pets—they can deteriorate faster. Senior pets also experience a natural age-related decline in organ function, especially the kidneys and liver.

By the time senior pets are noticeably sick, they are usually experiencing late or end-stage disease, which leaves little time to explore or delay treatment, and makes early detection absolutely crucial to ensure the best outcome and prevent pet suffering.

Alternatively, normal results can provide you with peace of mind and confidence that your aging pet is in good health and your care routine is successful. Such results also help to establish a baseline of your pet’s normal values, which can be invaluable should they become sick.

What conditions can be identified with senior pet wellness testing?

Senior pet wellness testing provides copious information about your pet’s health that can reveal hundreds of conditions, abnormalities, and dysfunctions. However, the most common and concerning senior health conditions we look for include:

  • Renal insufficiency (i.e., kidney failure)
  • Liver disease or failure
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid disease
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Pancreatitis
  • Anemia
  • Dehydration
  • Certain cancer types 

How does senior pet wellness testing differ from annual screening tests?

Pets are generally considered seniors around 7 to 10 years of age, although this can vary slightly depending on your pet’s breed. When your pet reaches senior status, we’ll continue the services you expect, such as the physical examination, appropriate vaccines, intestinal parasite screening (i.e., fecal test), and heartworm testing for dogs, and recommend additional wellness testing, including blood and urine testing, for an in-depth look at your senior pet’s organ function and internal health.

What’s included in senior pet wellness testing?

Senior pet wellness testing may vary based on your pet’s needs, but generally includes:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) — The CBC measures the liquid and cellular components of your pet’s blood, including red and white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. Abnormal CBC results can reveal health changes including anemia, infection, inflammation, bleeding, bone marrow disorders, and blood cancers (e.g., lymphoma or leukemia).

  • Biochemistry profile — The biochemistry profile analyzes organ health and function by measuring proteins, enzymes, hormones, and electrolytes circulating in the liquid portion of your pet’s blood. Senior pet biochemistry profiles can provide essential, key information for diagnosing, staging, and monitoring common health conditions, including:
    • Renal insufficiency (i.e., kidney failure)
    • Liver disease
    • Dehydration
    • Diabetes
    • Pancreatitis
    • Certain cancer types
    • Endocrine disorders (e.g., Cushing’s or Addison’s disease)

  • Urinalysis (UA) — The UA is a multi-step laboratory test that measures the physical and chemical properties of your pet’s urine, and is particularly useful for aging pets, because the test provides additional information about kidney function and urinary tract health. Blood or glucose in the urine can suggest health problems elsewhere in the body, including red blood cell destruction or diabetes.

  • Thyroid testing — The thyroid gland is the control center for many internal processes. This small gland produces thyroid hormones that control the body’s metabolic rate, affecting body temperature, growth, and development, heart function, digestion, muscle contraction, and appetite. 

The thyroid commonly dysfunctions in senior pets, producing too much or too little thyroid hormone (i.e., hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, respectively). Because abnormal thyroid levels can significantly impact pet health and quality of life, we recommend that all senior pets be tested annually.

  • Blood pressure measurement for senior cats — Hypertension (i.e., high blood pressure) is common in senior cats, but often is not detected until the condition has damaged the kidneys, eyes, heart, or nervous system. Routine blood pressure monitoring and blood work can identify blood pressure changes or the diseases that cause hypertension so the issue can be managed through medication or treatment. 

What can be done about my senior pet’s abnormal test results?

Identifying disease and age-related changes in their earliest stage can improve your pet’s treatment options and their prognosis. Additional testing or imaging may be recommended to confirm your pet’s diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.

If your pet’s results reveal an incurable or advanced condition, early diagnosis allows us to provide palliative care and manage their clinical signs as they appear. This approach minimizes discomfort, enhances quality of life, and ensures that you and your pet can enjoy every possible moment together.

Your senior pet isn’t the same dog or cat they were 10, five, or three years ago—and neither is their health. Protect your golden oldie with our gold-standard care designed for senior pets. Contact our Animal Hospital of Stoney Creek team to schedule your pet’s next wellness appointment.