What’s the importance of senior pet exams?

You’ve probably taken your pet for dozens of regular wellness exams. However, it is just as crucial that you continue to attend these appointments as your pet enters their senior years. In fact, your vet in Tampa, FL may even recommend that the frequency of your pet’s routine exams increase so that they can monitor the health of your pet more closely. Here’s what you need to know about why senior pet exams are so important and what you can expect to happen.

When does my pet become ‘senior’?


Animals often become senior much sooner than their owners expect. This is due to their significantly shorter lifespan which means that changes happen much more rapidly in their bodies than in ours. You’ve probably heard that every human year is the equivalent of 7 years for a dog. This means that if your dog is 8 human years old, their body is the equivalent of a 56 year old – middle to senior age. Large breeds of animal also tend to age more quickly than smaller pets. Your senior pet vet will be able to advise you if your pet is in their senior years and if so, what you can do to support them.

Health problems are more common in senior pets


Just like us, our animals are more likely to develop health problems as they get older. This is a result of the natural deterioration of their body systems, such as their immune function, which makes it much harder for them to fight off illness and infection. Other elements of their body also start to break down over time, such as joints, which can make it harder for them to move around.


It’s normal for pets to slow down once their senior years, and your furbaby may not want to exercise as much as they once did. While it’s important to adapt their exercise to a manageable level and activities that they can perform with ease, it’s just as crucial that they do maintain some level of exercise each day. Not only does physical activity help keep their heart and lungs healthy and their body strong, but regular exercise will also help them to maintain their weight – something which is essential as they get older since obesity is a common cause of many health problems. 

Changes to expect in senior pets


Some age-related changes are completely normal and to be expected. In most circumstances, your vet will be able to provide you with some support to help keep your pet comfortable so that they can still enjoy good quality of life during their senior years.


Some of the common age-related changes that you might see in your senior years could include:

  • Deterioration of vision

  • Increased urination

  • Straining to urinate

  • Urinating or defecating in areas where they shouldn’t after previously being toilet trained

  • Dental problems including bad breath and dental disease

  • Dry skin

  • Hair loss

  • Greying coat

  • Weight changes

  • Mobility problems

  • Behavioral changes

  • Memory loss and confusion


Animals are exceptionally good at masking signs of illness, so you and your family will need to be alert for signs of such changes, particularly if they then go on to affect your pet’s quality of life. If you are concerned about any aspect of your senior pet’s wellbeing, don’t delay speaking to your vet for more advice.

What’s involved in a senior pet exam?


A senior pet exam isn’t at all dissimilar to a normal pet wellness check and will contain many of the same elements including a physical examination, blood/fecal/urine testing, taking your pet’s weight, temperature and other core observations and giving you advice on your pet’s preventative care. Diseases and parasites can strike at any age, so it’s important that you continue with a strict schedule of preventatives to keep your senior pet safe.


Older pets are more likely to develop problems with their thyroid, so your animal’s senior pet exam will almost certainly involve thyroid testing. This test measures the amount of free thyroxine hormone in a blood sample to make sure that it falls within the normal ranges.


Finally, your vet will probably give you advice on the best ways that you can continue to support your pet through their senior years. This could include recommendations surrounding what they eat, what supplements they should take, how to alter their exercise routine to help them and other lifestyle changes which would benefit them.


If you would like more information about senior pet exams, don’t hesitate to call (813) 850-0600 to speak to our experienced veterinary team in Tampa FL today at Circle of Life Animal Hospital.

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