Our senior dogs and cats are more likely to develop diseases than their younger counterparts. They are prone to chronic illness as they age, such as kidney failure, heart disease, arthritis, dental disease, cancer and cognitive dysfunction.

What can we do to help keep them healthy? Bring your pet to the veterinarian on a regular basis for a complete physical exam as well as additional tests they may recommend (such as blood work and urinalysis). The veterinarian will guide you on which warning signs may signal disease. Some of the signs include drinking more water than usual, urinating with increased frequency, decreased appetite, drooling from the mouth and decreased activity. Believe it or not, dogs and cats can exhibit signs of dementia characterized by unusual behavior such as whining or howling at night. They can act disoriented and restless as well.

Signs of cancer depend on the system in the body that is involved and can include such signs as weight loss, chronic vomiting and/or diarrhea, breathing difficulties, mass formation internally or externally, weakness, neurologic signs and more.

The good news is that with advances in diagnostics, health monitoring and wellness programs, your veterinarian is well prepared to help your dog and/or cat live as long and healthy as possible. Continuous monitoring of pets can help detect early, subtle changes that indicate the slow and gradual development of such a condition. Early detection of diseases will bring the field of preventive medicine into a whole new level.