When To Take Your Senior Dog to the Vet

When To Take Your Senior Dog to the Vet

As your dog gets older, you will begin to notice some changes to their health starting to appear. Knowing how to identify symptoms of health issues early on can lead to a quick diagnosis and immediate treatment from your dog’s vet. Once your dog enters the senior lifestage, it is not unusual for them to develop vision, hearing loss, and maybe even dementia. It’s essential your senior dog is regularly seen by a vet to ensure these issues aren’t affecting their overall health.

In this blog post, I will explain what a standard check-up entails, how often they should see the vet, and what signs to watch out for when monitoring your pet’s health.

Dr Carol Doyle Veterinarian

Carol Doyle, BSc VN DVM

Carol DoyIe is a small pet veterinarian in a practice in Ashbourne, Co. Meath and is the human companion to her cats, Nala and Donal, two horses - Indie and Bella, and her dog Phoebe.

As a guest blogger and advisor, Carol shares her professional advice with pet owners, answering many of the questions that she gets asked regularly in-clinic.

What Makes a Dog Senior?

People often ask me, ‘how do I know when my dog is “senior?”’ and the answer largely depends on the breed of the dog. Smaller dogs are seen as senior when they are around 11 years old, whereas bigger breeds are senior when they’re around 7-8 years old. In general, the ‘senior’ life stage is the last quarter to a third of a dog’s expected life span.

What does a standard vet visit look like?

When visiting your vets, you may have specific concerns about your dog and would like some questions answered. Always make sure that these concerns are all addressed to your satisfaction before the end of your visit.

In general, your vet will likely cover the following:

History–your vet will discuss with you your dog’s history to establish any modifications to your dog’s lifestyle, such as diet, appetite, habits, mobility issues, attitude etc.

Physical examination– your veterinarian will evaluate your dog from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail, examining the ears, eyes, teeth, coat, skin etc and checking for any abnormalities or changes since the last visit.

Routine wellness care–this includes appropriate parasite control, dental care, vaccinations, and weight management and other wellness issues.

Age-related issues– your vet may talk to you about what to expect or watch out for as your dog ages such as vision or hearing loss, mobility issues or cognitive dysfunction.

senior border collie dog at vets

How Often Should My Senior Dog See The Vet?

You should take your senior dog to see the vet at least once a year for a general check-up. Yearly visits are recommended and after that the vet will advise whether more frequent visits are required. For example, A dog on medication may require blood tests every 6 months for monitoring. This can be applied to all dogs not just senior patientsIt is very important to have your veterinarian examine your dog if any of the following symptoms begin to show;

  • Weight Loss
  • Increased panting/difficulty breathing
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Diarrhoea that lasts over 2 days
  • Constipation or difficulty passing stool/urine
  • Significant decrease or increase in appetite
  • Significant decrease or increase in thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Noticeable vision or hearing loss
  • Significant lack of energy
  • Frequent coughing/gagging
  • Loss of house training
  • Hair loss, scratching or skin irritations

Although old age is not a disease, older patients do require special attention. This is important so that if your dog develops disease or other healthcare problems, it can be picked up and treated as early as possible, thereby maintaining his quality of life for longer.

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