Regular wellness exams are important for your senior dog, even if they appear generally healthy. By having your dog examined at least once a year, it allows the veterinary health care team to make note of insidious problems like obesity, arthritis and dental disease, and formulate an action plan for your individual dog before problems become severe. If your dog has health concerns such as heart, liver or kidney disease, we recommend an exam at least every 6 months to evaluate the efficacy of your dog’s individual treatment plan. Some patients might require laboratory testing to monitor organ function or drug levels at more frequent intervals.
Distemper/Parvo: we recommend vaccinating against canine distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, parainfluenza and adenovirus. Because it is still important to keep senior dogs protected against these deadly diseases, we will work with you and your individual senior dog to determine the best vaccination protocol for your family member. If you have any questions about what is right for your dog, do not hesitate to ask our doctors.
Rabies: rabies vaccines are good for 3 years. It is a legal requirement to keep your dog current on rabies.
Bordetella: We recommend the bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine for dogs who are boarded, go to the groomer or spend a lot of time around other dogs.
Other Vaccines: if your dog would benefit from some of the other vaccinations available, either because of travel history or specific health needs, we will discuss this with you at your dog’s wellness visit.
Intestinal Parasites: because of the zoonotic (can be spread to humans) potential of common intestinal parasites, we recommend that all dogs have their stool examined on an annual basis. This can become especially important in older dogs as their immune function can decline making them more susceptible to parasites. Fecal examination entails giardia elisa testing, and microscopic examination of a direct and flotation preparation of feces to check for worm ovum and coccidia.
Heartworm Testing: we recommend testing for heartworm on an annual basis. The heartworm test is a fast simple blood test that detects the presence of heartworm disease, a potentially fatal mosquito borne illness, and 3 potentially fatal tick borne diseases. If you keep your dog on year round prevention, and do not travel to high heartworm endemic areas, your dog can be tested every other year. As the incidence of heartworm disease in Idaho is increasing, if you elect not to have your dog on prevention, we still strongly recommend yearly testing for this potentially deadly disease so treatment can be instituted in a timely fashion.
Heartworm prevention: Highly recommended for all dogs. Also treats for roundworms and hookworms, two common and potentially zoonotic (can transfer to humans) diseases.
Fleas/ticks: depending on the season, we recommend Frontline Plus for flea and tick prevention.
We recommend good oral hygiene for your dog and offer a complete line of at home dental care products ranging from tooth brushes and paste to rinses and chews.
Your dog’s teeth and gums will be evaluated at their annual wellness visit. It is very common for senior dogs to show signs of moderate to severe periodontal disease. Newer anesthetic protocols have made dental procedures much safer, and your dog will be on IV fluids in addition to being monitored very closely while under anesthesia. It is very important to address periodontal disease, as it can lead to pain, poor appetite, weight loss, kidney issues and heart disease. If your senior dog has periodontal disease, we strongly recommend having it treated in order to prevent more serious health problems down the road. Keeping your senior dog's teeth healthy has a profound impact on their overall well-being and quality of life.
Senior Health Screening
Laboratory Testing: we recommend at least yearly blood testing for senior pets. Basic screening for senior dogs includes a complete blood cell count (red and white blood cells, platelets and hemoglobin), general chemistry panel (BUN, creatinine, Alk Phos, Glucose, ALT, total protein, calcium, phosphorus, albumin, amylase, total bilirubin and cholesterol), thyroid and a complete urinanalysis. Regular laboratory screening allows us to diagnose diseases in your dog much earlier, which enables us to treat any underlying conditions much more successfully than waiting until your senior dog is seriously ill.
Tonometry: glaucoma is a very common eye disease that can lead to pain and blindness if not diagnosed early. As part of a comprehensive senior wellness program, we recommend regular measuring of your dog’s intra-ocular pressure. This provides us with baseline information, and if your dog’s pressure rises, it enables us to begin treating for glaucoma much earlier—before your pet is in pain or loses vision.
Blood Pressure: Hypertension is a common and vastly underdiagnosed problem in our older dogs. Regular screenings can help determine if your canine companion needs to be on blood pressure medication to help prolong their life.
ECG: Some dogs develop cardiac arrhythmias and other heart problems with age. An electocardiogram can be a good early screening tool to ensure your dog's heart is healthy.
Radiographs: Our older canine companions are more prone to arthritis, cardiac disease, pulmonary issues and cancers. Sometimes routine radiographs can help rule out these serious conditions or help our doctors assess the severity of your dog's problems so appropriate treatment plans can be made.
Senior Wellness Packages
We currently offer 3 Senior Wellness Packages to help provide your aging canine companion the best possible care into their golden years. Please feel free to discuss which package will fit your pet's individual needs with our veterinary health care team.
Senior Package A: Includes complete laboratory screening (CBC, blood chemistries, electrolytes, urinalysis and thyroid (T4)), tonometry, blood pressure measurement, ECG and 4 radiographic views.
Senior Package B: Includes complete laboratory screening (CBC, blood chemistries, electrolytes, urinalysis and thyroid (T4)), tonometry, blood pressure measurement, and 2 radiographic views.
Senior Package C: Includes complete laboratory screening (CBC, blood chemistries, electrolytes, urinalysis and thyroid (T4)), tonometry and blood pressure measurement.