Your Pet’s Senior Wellness Exam

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When you first bring a dog or cat into your life, begin making veterinary visits a pleasant experience.  Help your pet feel comfortable in his or her crate, carrier or harness, so that car rides are not stressful. 

Eventually, take your furry pal to the vet when he or she doesn’t have an appointment, to get on the scale or just sit in the waiting room taking in the sights and smells while enjoying a few treats and ear scratches from you.  After a short visit, return home with your best friend NOT having received an injection or procedure.  It’s important that animals do not associate pain with their vet’s office, as regular visits are one of the best ways to ensure a long and healthy life by your side.  

Caring For Your Senior Pets: What to Expect

A lot can go on in a dog's body, especially as our pets enter their senior years. Twice-yearly veterinary visits are important to catch a problem early.  Even if you do regular home checks, feeling for lumps and bumps, there is nothing as thorough as a professional Wellness Exam to detect a problem like diabetes at the beginning, and get your pet the help he/she needs. Performing other routine checks of eyes and teeth can be helpful, while keeping your pet updated on their shots can be vital.  Ofcourse, getting your pet plenty of exercise doesn't hurt either.

Wellness Exam

A Mature, Senior, Geriatric or Wellness Exam (different practices use various terminology) should include a complete blood count (CBC) which tells how many red and white cells your dog or cat has.  A CBC also shows if there are enough platelets to clot, and alerts your veterinarian to inflammation, anemia or blood diseases that can be detected from just looking at your pet. 

Bloodwork

When blood is drawn for this test, the sample goes into a vial with a lavender top as that denotes a vial containing a chemical that prevents blood from clotting.  This allows the lab technician to count individual blood cells.  Additionally, a drop of blood is placed on a slide to look at the shape and color of your blood cells.  Every animal’s blood cells are not identical, and differences can help professionals learn about your dog or cat’s health.   

The second part of the blood work in a Senior Wellness exam is blood chemistries.  This looks at how well the animal’s organs are functioning, and also if there has been any injury to muscles or problems with the thyroid.  This portion of the blood sample goes into a vial with a red cap.  There is no clot preventing chemicals in this tube, so the blood can clot allowing the serum (fluid in the blood) to be tested separately for various chemicals and enzymes.  

Urinalysis

Urinalysis is another component of a wellness check and helps vets evaluate a pet’s overall kidney function, while parasite exams check for worms, intestinal parasites, and heartworms.   

Other Important Factors to Check

Your veterinarian will also look into your dog or cat’s eyes, mouth and ears, feeling his body for lumps, bumps (like you do weekly), and any abnormalities in the size of organs.  It’s possible that x-rays or an MRI might be suggested to take a look deep under your pet’s skin. One of the last facets of the wellness exam should be your interaction with your pet’s veterinarian.  You should be asked questions about any changes in your dog or cat’s habits or lifestyle, and if you’ve paid attention, hopefully, you’ll provide good feedback. 

Ask Your Vet Questions and Share Your Thoughts

If your pet is not acting like themself, something might be hurting, so speak up as your pet’s advocate!  If the veterinarian mentions a condition or treatment that you don’t understand, kindly ask for a more detailed explanation.  You are the one who must make medical choices on your dog or cat’s behalf, so you must be in-the-know.  If a test or procedure is suggested, stay one step ahead and inquire as to what the options are based on potential results. 

No person or pet wants to be poked and prodded endlessly, so knowing what testing would lead to can help you determine how far you want to go, for your pet’s sake, with additional procedures.  

Consider Investing in Pet Insurance 

Looking for more ways to keep your pets happy and healthy? Consider investing in a pet insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance.1  We offer dog insurance and cat insurance policies for your furry family members.  Get your free quote today. 

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.