Dr. Seuss wrote a wonderful book for "obsolete children" entitled You're Only Old Once. In this deceptively simple book, the reader follows an elderly gentleman through a day of tests at a geriatric clinic. Though told with a smile, the story reminds us that there comes a time in life when more and more time needs to be spent on medical tests. This is as true for senior dogs as it is for us humans.
Signs of aging—and symptoms of serious issues
While certain conditions like reduced hearing and vision or joint stiffness are all part of growing older, there are other problems that can only be discovered through diagnostic tests. Having these tests done a couple of times a year can help prevent or minimize conditions that would otherwise progress very quickly.
When your dog goes for his semi-annual examination, there are a few key tests that your vet will want to perform:
Blood tests. These tests evaluate the number of red and white blood cells and can help determine if they are abnormal with infections, anemia, and other issues. In addition, kidney disease, diabetes, liver disease, and other illnesses can also be diagnosed with blood tests.
Urine test. Your dog's urine can reveal whether he has a kidney or bladder infection, cancer, or kidney disease.
Fecal test. Like the urine test, certain parasites and disease can show themselves in your dog's feces. If intestinal parasites like hookworms, whipworms, or tapeworms are present in your dog's system, their eggs can often be found in your dog's feces. The feces can also be evaluated for the presence of blood and abnormal bacteria.
While these tests can sometimes be a bit on the expensive side, they are critical in helping your vet diagnose disease and determine the appropriate treatment. When it comes to senior dogs (and us humans, too), an ounce of prevention is worth more than just a pound of cure—because you simply can't put a price tag on something as precious as good health and proper care.