15 July, 2009
By: Amna Plummer, DVM, Critter Care Animal Hospital
While aging is both natural and inevitable, it is important to realize that pets age much faster than people. Aging is a natural and inevitable process that we all face. Pets, however, age much faster than people. Size and breed are significant factors - with some large dog breeds aging more rapidly than smaller breeds. On average, by age two most dogs and cats have already reached adulthood, and by age seven, many pets are entering their senior years. Because dogs age more rapidly than people, significant health changes can occur in a short amount of time.
The risks of cancer, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, heart disease and other serious conditions all increase with age. And, because today’s pets are living longer, chances are many will experience a potentially serious illness during their lifetime. Since pets age, on average, up to seven times faster than people, it is recommended that they get a check up twice a year.
Routine check ups should include blood chemistry tests to evaluate the functionality of a dog’s organs. These tests can detect conditions or diseases before symptoms emerge. Blood work is recommended for young pets undergoing any surgical procedure. Also, if a problem such as liver or kidney disease is suspected, blood work can help to identify this.
A significant percentage of young animals, especially purebred dogs, can have congenital or hereditary problems such as porto systemic shunts (liver), kidney disease, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and diabetes. While most pets experience the best health of their lives between the ages of two and six years of age, stress, illnesses and poor nutrition can affect and potentially cause disease to their organs.
Blood chemistry tests can detect these early changes and provide a good baseline for comparison later in your pet’s life. Treatment is usually the most effective when begun in the early stages of the disease process. Advances in medical diagnostics and treatment enable your pet be more comfortable and also to prolong its life. New pain management medications also help pets with chronic pain have a better quality of life. In addition to medications, appropriate nutrition for your pet’s condition will also prolong its lifespan.
About Critter Care Animal Hospital Built in 1998, Critter Care Animal Hospital is a full service veterinary hospital for small animals. It opened it's doors in November of that year and was formerly The Animal Clinic on Wilcrest in southwest Houston. It is now owned and operated by Amna Plummer DVM.