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542 E 11th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202

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(317) 972-1111

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dtvindy@sbcglobal.net

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Monday: 7:30 am-6:00 pm
Tuesday: 7:30 am-6:00 pm
Wednesday: 7:30 am-6:00 pm
Thursday: 7:30 am-6:00 pm
Friday: 7:30 am-6:00 pm
Saturday: 8:00 am-1:00 pm
Sunday: closed

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THE AGING PET

Do I need to care for my pet differently as he gets older?
You value the affection you share with your old friend- your pet. You can help that friendship last longer by continuing to work with us to maintain your pet's health and quality of life. We don't like to admit it to ourselves, but as we age, our bodies start to "wear out." Pets are the same way- their physical condition and health change over time, too.

These changes mean that your pet needs special veterinary care in addition to the annual wellness exam. We will help you develop a complete geriatric health-maintenance program to provide optimal care for your older pet.

How does a geriatric exam differ from my pet's usual exam?
As your pet ages, more frequent, and often more extensive, examinations will help us detect changes in your pet's physical condition. Geriatric examinations frequently involve laboratory tests on your pet's blood and urine. Radiology (x-rays), electrocardiograms (ECGs) and ultrasound as well as other tests may also be recommended on a case-by-case basis. It is very important to establish a set of baseline values for your pet to make it easier for us to monitor changes in its health over time.

Watch your pet carefully for any unusual changes in activity level and attitude, appetite, water intake, urination, bowel movements or body weight. It is important not to just dismiss changes in your pet's health or habits as "part of the aging process," because they may be signs of serious disease. Even if your pet seems perfectly healthy, frequent exams are necessary for early detection of the changes and illnesses associated with aging.

At what age is my pet considered "old"?
The aging process varies with breed and lifestyle. Additional annual screening for diseases and other age-related problems should begin at age seven for most cats and small-to-medium-sized dogs. Large and giant dogs should be screened starting at the age of five or six.

The chart below gives you general guidelines to follow when determining if your pet has reached the "senior years."

SENIOR YEARS FOR PETS

Cats Most breeds 10-14 years
Small dogs Less than 20 pounds 10-13 years
Medium dogs 21-50 pounds 8-12 years
Large dogs 51-90 pounds 7-10 years
Giant dogs More than 90 pounds 5-9 years

How can I help my pet maintain the appropriate weight?
Middle-aged dogs and dogs in the first stage of their senior years are prone to gain weight as their metabolism slows down and their activity decreases. Balance the amount you feed and the type of diet with the activity level of your pet. Dogs may need fewer calories as they get older, and they may also need a diet lower in fat and higher in fiber. Very old dogs tend to lose weight rather than gain it, like very old people.

Cats do not have the same weight gain and loss patterns as dogs. Their energy requirements stay about the same through their adult lives. Very old cats, like elderly people, may become thinner as they age. Any weight loss in your cat should be discussed with us when it is noted at home.

Part of creating a geriatric health-care program unique to your pet is evaluating nutritional needs. We can recommend the most appropriate diet for your special friend at all periods of its life.

How important is dental care now that my pet is old?
It is more important than ever! When routine dental care is neglected, tooth loss and gum disease become more common as pets age. Over 70 % of older cats and 80% of older dogs have periodontal (gum) disease. Proper attention to the health of your pet's mouth can improve the length and well-being of your pet's life.

What other changes might I see in my pet?
As your pet ages, its body starts to "wear out." Many conditions or changes may occur in your pet, including:

  • Hearing and vision loss
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Dental disease
  • Loss of hair, dull coat, or graying of hair around the muzzle
  • Arthritis
  • Constipation (especially in cats)
  • Sensitivity to temperature changes
  • Cancer or benign tumors
  • Coughing and exercise intolerance
  • Increased water consumption and urination
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Breast cancer (especially in unspayed females)
  • Behavioral changes (increased aggression, noise phobias, disruption in housebreaking, increased vocalization and changes in sleep patterns
  • Prostate disease (especially in unneutered males)
  • Cataracts
  • Confusion and disorientation (cognitive dysfunction)


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