The veterinary industry as a whole is focusing on improving quality of life for older dogs and cats and on extending those lives. The most important new tool in this enhanced effort is the senior wellness screening. To understand the value of the senior wellness screening, it may be helpful to first cover the definitions of clinical vs.subclinical.
A clinical condition is one that is plainly evident from history and physical signs. For example, a dog that shows a high temperature, lack of appetite, and low energy suffers from a clinical condition. The pet is sick. A subclinical condition is one that can only be detected through testing. Many conditions such as diabetes, kidney problems, and thyroid problems develop slowly over time. The pet is not sick, but will develop a problem later in life. Through routine geriatric screening, problems can be identified before they become full-blown clinical conditions. Through diet, exercise, environmental changes, or medication, future problems may be avoided or lessened.
Just as with humans, the aging cat and dog becomes more prone to certain disease processes. The leading geriatric conditions for dogs and cats include diabetes, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, constipation (cats only), prostate problems (dogs only), dental problems, thyroid dysfunction, cataracts, deafness, renal disease, urinary tract infections, hypertension, and tumors.
We must bear in mind one big difference between pets and humans – pets age faster. In humans, most people consider the senior years to begin at ages 56 to 60. However, much of the increased screening that doctors recommend for humans begins in the late middle ages, 42 to 45. Vets recommend that annual senior wellness screening begin at 7 to 8 years of age for cats and dogs. This corresponds to late middle-ages in humans and to the ages when many problems start developing in pets. Large breed dogs live shorter lives, so their annual screenings should begin at 5 to 7 years of age. As a general guideline, cats and dogs will benefit most from senior wellness screening when they have reached the last 25% of their life expectancy.
Healing Springs’ new senior wellness screening involves more testing than the typical focused exam and lab testing. The broader range of testing will help ensure that developing problems are identified before they become clinical conditions. The physical will include orthopedic testing, central nervous system evaluation, vital signs, pain assessment, dental assessment, skin evaluation, organ palpation, cardiopulmonary evaluation, rectal palpation (in dogs) and more. A urinalysis including sediment examination will help identify developing kidney problems or a pre-diabetic state. Blood testing will evaluate 13 different measures in dogs and 14 measures in cats.
At Healing Springs, the senior wellness screening costs only $125. To help raise awareness of senior pet health issues,Antec Laboratories is discounting their senior geriatric profile blood work. Healing Springs will pass on that discount to clients and offer the senior wellness screening for only $99 in September.