It’s reported that some 39% of the pets owned in the U.S. are considered seniors. Sadly, only about 14% of those senior animals undergo a regular health screening with a veterinarian every year.

Generally, when pets hit the age of seven, they are considered seniors. However, giant breed dogs (like Great Danes) can reach senior status as young as five years old and cats may not be considered senior until ages twelve or thirteen. It is important to discuss with your veterinarian the appropriate care for your pet as they approach the senior age for their specific species and breed. 

At Briargate Boulevard Animal Hospital, we want to help you have as many healthy years with your pet as possible, which is why we recommend that senior pets have regular health screening with our doctors every six months, including blood work and possibly an X-ray and ultrasound. Here’s why:

Blood screenings—often referred to as a “senior panel”— monitor red and white blood cell counts and reveal how well the kidney, liver, pancreas, and thyroid are functioning. Elder pets commonly develop thyroid problems, and felines are prone to kidney disease, which often has few symptoms until it is well advanced.

Just like people, senior pets are at an increased risk of cancer and heart disease. X-rays and ultrasounds help us catch both these conditions early when they can be more effectively treated. In fact, the American College of Veterinary Radiology reports that a recent study of veterinary ultrasounds found abnormalities in 80% of senior dogs over 9. 

Senior exams also give the doctor a chance to look at how your pet is moving and to do a dental examination. Arthritis is common in older dogs and cats, while periodontal disease is always a threat to our pets’ health—and it’s particularly tough on older pets.

If it’s been over a year since your senior pet has seen the vet, we encourage you to make your pet part of the lucky 14%! The sooner we catch potential problems, the more healthy years your pet will have with you. Make an appointment by calling us at (719) 528-5689.