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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am going to be taking my old guy to another vet for a little more in depth care.
My current vet is fine for shots and basic stuff, but has never even mentioned a senior exam or thyroid test or any of the other things I've seen mentioned here.
I'd like to be a little more educated before we go to the new vet. It's a friend's vet and I am hoping for a little more proactive care.
Thanks for your advice!
 

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When my vet did a full checkup of Daisy the first thing was getting a full bloodwork on her including thyroid. Other than the bloodwork, it was just a really complete exam checking her out closely on muscle movement, checking her eyes really closely to see if any eye problems like glaucoma. I cant think of what else.
 

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Missing Selka So Much
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I know some here are bigger experts on this: I know there are certain blood tests(cbc ?) you should have done every 6 months as they age. I have to admit we haven't done this though. I have both boys thyroids checked yearly, heartworm, and eye checks but they both have specific eye problems.
Also Selka has to have all his lipomas checked and new ones added and checked so that takes up alot of time.

maybe some one else's brain is working better than mine tonight. : )
 

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They get it
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I am not sure, but this is a good question. I still kick myself for not having a geriatric exam for Tucker when he turned 7. We may have found the kidney problem earlier and he could have had more time with us. He was just such a healthy boy, I never thought to have it done. Now, when my kids hit age 7, they are getting a full work-up. I will be watching this thread to get the low-down on what I need to ask for.
 

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Here's what I have my vet check on my dogs at any time, but then as they age, I throw in a thyroid check and a full CBC as a baseline:
Coat and skin - thorough physical check for lumps, itchiness, change in pigment
Eyes - check for discharge, inflammation, dry eyes, ulceration, infection
Ears - any inflammation, infection, yeast
Nose and Throat - inflammation, discharge, cough
Mouth, teeth, gums - gingivitis, ulcers/lesions, loose teeth
Musculoskeletal - lameness, pain in palpation, any deficits like proprioception (have the vet do a quick test of how quickly they right their paws when turned over)
Heart - check to be sure it sounds normal
Abdomen - check that organs are normal size
Lungs - check that they sound normal
Gastrointestinal system-include anal sacs, do a fecal for a baseline
Urogenital system - talk about how often and how much they pee

I'm a freak about getting the most thorough check, but then, my vet knows that and is super thorough about going over my dogs with a fine tooth comb. Point out any abnormality that you think even hints at a problem. Pay special attention to eyes, as older goldens can and do get non-healing ulcers and uveal cysts.
 

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Finn's Fan pretty well covered it, but insist on a urinalysis; not all vets do them and it's really important as the dogs get older. It picks up the beginnings of kidney problems long before anything shows up in blood work. (If you bring in a small bottle of urine and give it to them, I'm sure they'll run one!)
Also of course full blood work, with liver functions, CBC, thyroid, etc.
 

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Here's what I have my vet check on my dogs at any time, but then as they age, I throw in a thyroid check and a full CBC as a baseline:
Coat and skin - thorough physical check for lumps, itchiness, change in pigment
Eyes - check for discharge, inflammation, dry eyes, ulceration, infection
Ears - any inflammation, infection, yeast
Nose and Throat - inflammation, discharge, cough
Mouth, teeth, gums - gingivitis, ulcers/lesions, loose teeth
Musculoskeletal - lameness, pain in palpation, any deficits like proprioception (have the vet do a quick test of how quickly they right their paws when turned over)
Heart - check to be sure it sounds normal
Abdomen - check that organs are normal size
Lungs - check that they sound normal
Gastrointestinal system-include anal sacs, do a fecal for a baseline
Urogenital system - talk about how often and how much they pee
Finn's Fan did a great job! Thanks so much! Here are some additional/expanded suggestions to add to the listing:

1. A clean urine sample
2. A blood pressure check (done routinely now by my vet on all dogs of all ages at every visit).
3. An EKG/EEG (this costs more and I can't remember which one they recommend)
4. A temperature check

Our vet recommends a senior exam twice a year. They also have a handout at the office telling us what the "senior profile" panel tests. Next time I'm there I'll pick it up and see if I can scan it and copy it into here. Since my senior is hypothyroid we also do an expanded thyroid panel once a year.

Our vet also asks a lot of questions such as:

1. Has their attitude changed? (crankier, acting like they are lost in a fog, lethary, depression, etc)
2. Has the appetite changed? (could mean dental issues or a medical condition).
3. Has water consumption increased or decreased?
4. Has the dog's weight changed up or down?
5. Have there been elimination changes? Have they had accidents in the home? Are they constipated?
6. Do they exhibit difficulty in movement or rising in the morning?
7. The vet should also discuss the dog's diet (what they eat, how much, how often, brand) and supplementation.
8. Exercise intolerance? Difficulty breathing in exercise? Has their exercise decreased or changed?

I read some vets do x-rays but that gets pretty expensive on a semi-annual basis.

Maybe we should pool all the answers in this thread and create a sticky Senior Veterinary Exam Checklist we can print out and take to the next veterinary exams! That way we get our money's worth from the exam and we keep the veterinarians on their toes too!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Also Selka has to have all his lipomas checked and new ones added and checked so that takes up alot of time.


I took Copper in yesterday. He is due for his annual shots. I only had a rabies done and will have DHPP (or whatever those initials are) and Kennel Cough in two week intervals. Now that he has had his spleen removed I don't want him to get them all at one time (thanks hotel4dogs).
The vet checked his lumps. It was not my usual one. He kept feeling Copper and saying "There's another one over here......". You could throw a dart at him and hit a lump fir sure. Poor baby is full of them.

I'll incorporate all the ideas from this thread and use them with the other vet.

Thanks!
 

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My Cocker Spaniel was 17 years old when we had to put her down. She had lots of Senior exams, but for the life of me, I cannot remember what the exam consisted of.
 

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My vet keeps a "lump map" of the dogs.



Also Selka has to have all his lipomas checked and new ones added and checked so that takes up alot of time.


I took Copper in yesterday. He is due for his annual shots. I only had a rabies done and will have DHPP (or whatever those initials are) and Kennel Cough in two week intervals. Now that he has had his spleen removed I don't want him to get them all at one time (thanks hotel4dogs).
The vet checked his lumps. It was not my usual one. He kept feeling Copper and saying "There's another one over here......". You could throw a dart at him and hit a lump fir sure. Poor baby is full of them.

I'll incorporate all the ideas from this thread and use them with the other vet.

Thanks!
 

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My vet keeps a "lump map", too. I would discuss whether a senior dog needs any more shots beyond the requisite rabies. You could run titers to check for continued appropriate levels of immunity. If the dog has any continuing disease, especially autoimmune, I don't give shots (except rabies every three years). My vet is totally on board with this protocol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I'm thinking about boarding him at Thanksgiving and I want him to stay somewhere that has staff 24/7. I believe I will have to have all his shots in order to board.
He really and truly has lipomas or other "things" on about 75% of his body. I don't think we could do a map, but I can try.
 

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My vet visits pretty much agree with DallasGold's list but the following items are only done when something is suspect

EKG/EEG
Xrays

I also get Tick panels done every 6 months or so for all of my dogs regardless of age, and complete blood work done every 6 months for my seniors and once a year for my younger dogs. This includes thyroid panels whether they show any symptoms or not.

Blood pressure screening is something I now ask for as well - my Rowdster had HBP and I have no idea when it started; it could have pointed out a problem sooner since dogs do not generally develop Hypertension without an underlying cause.
 

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A seven year old dog is basically in its 40s in human years. I doubt that most of us when we hit 40 started doubling our frequency of doctor exams or undergoing more lab tests if we showed no symptoms and had no special risk factors.

Although I certainly don't begrudge anyone getting their dog checked and tested as frequently as makes them comfortable, I guess in some ways I'm still a little old school in some aspects of canine health care.

I do go to great preventive lengths in everyday health and lifestyle choices for my dogs: carefully choosing and rotating foods, salmon oil and glucosamine supplements, marrow bones under supervision for teeth cleaning, less frequency of core vaccines, exercise, etc. But I haven't fully crossed that divide (which used to exist between animal medical care and human medical care) in terms of scheduling more frequent checkups and tests for an asymptomatic dog. It's not a money issue (although I don't like to spend where I don't think it's needed), but more of a philosophical choice.
I realize some serious issues are found during routine tests; but I doubt that is the norm. It's more likely that slightly out of normal range values in blood chemical profiles are found which frequently lead to more extensive testing. There are few elderly humans or dogs which have perfect looking profiles. I'm sure there are many on this board who could share a story about their senior dog having been tremendously helped by modern advances in senior pet care. For some, all available tests to search for problems and the offered treatments are wanted. For others, providing a daily healthy lifestyle, an annual checkup and turning to a vet as symptoms arise is still the preferred mode.

I guess the question is: how far is a person willing to go for their dog with tests, procedures, medicines, surgeries, etc. to extend an elderly dog's life? I think the veterinary community is banking on the public response being: as far as they would go with their own grandma's health. We have anthropomorphized our pets on so many levels (yes, I hang a Christmas stocking for my dogs) - senior pet health care seems to be the last frontier.
 

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Even though Selka has many lipomas , my vet still maps them.

They also don't do vaccines past the age of 9 except for rabies. My dogs really aren't around many other dogs (only my daughter's dog) and I don't get the vac for Lepto anyway since it so hard to know if you are getting the correct kind anyway and the bad reactions.

Gunner will be due (three years) for his vacs this year and I will make sure to get them all separately weeks apart. They can do that right? I am not talking rabies. I mean Distemper & parvo since I'm not getting lepto. He has never had a reaction but he will be 7 in Feb. I don't do titiers as my vet charges so much for them.

I just have decided to do the three yr. protocol for Gunner since Selka is 10 and won't have anymore vacs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Copper is of unknown age, but I would guess much greater than 7.

He was scheduled for shoulder surgery last november and the test for anesthesia revealed alarming liver values. Off we went to the specialist for an ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed no liver problems (the original vet's test was performed incorrectly - retest was fine), but did reveal splenic tumors.

I joined this forum in January searching for information and it has helped me greatly. Copper had his spleen and a stomach tumor (found during surgery) removed in February.

He has had other "minor" issues since then and a severe attack of pancreatitis in August. He recovered from that and immediately developed Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome.:doh: He recovered from that in about a week.

Needless to say - I want to prevent whatever I can and if it takes additional tests that is fine. Most splenic tumors are not found until the spleen ruptures and the dog usually dies from that, so my bogus blood test was a good thing.:)

I think I am going to board him at Thanksgiving. I have always used a pet sitter since I also have 5 cats and 2 horses who need care, but I really think I want him somewhere he will have 24/7 care.

He had his rabies shot Saturday, will get his Parvo etc. next week and kennel cough a few weeks later.

I will also schedule him during that time with the new vet and have a thyroid test and blood panel done at least. My friend is using a chondriotin/glucosamine supplement recommended by this vet(glycoflex II) and has had great results so we will talk about that as well.

I work hard (when I work:p:), have no kids and if I choose to spend my money on my dog, well I can't think of a better use for it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well, Copper got his blood panel done today and it was all good! :)
He was not feeling well this morning and had seemed a little off yesterday as well. He threw up his breakfast and that was enough for me!:doh:

Off we went to the vet for a full checkup. It turns out that the insect bite he had checked on Saturday has caused a systemic reaction. I had some questions about how it was doing, but he was on antibiotics and I was giving him benedryl and spraying the area with GentaVed spray. What else could I do???:no:

The only value that was a little off was his liver value. It was 158 and shouldn't be higher than 150. They think it was a little high due to his system's reaction to whatever bit/stung him.

So now all he is missing is the thyroid test and we shall get that done as soon as time and money allow.

He got a steroid and anti-inflammatory shot and is to stay on antiibiotics for anther week. I shall see how he is doing this evening.

he did not want to eat when we got home so I left him sleeping in the car (his favorite) with the doors open and drove my husband's SUV to work. Is he a little spoiled?:p:

I put a dog biscuit by his muzzle in case he decided he wanted it, but pesky little brother Jack stole it and was sleeping with in the driver's seat.
 

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Which liver value was that?
Toby's ALT is always about 250; should be under 110. The vet says that at this point with Toby, it is what it is. But he also says that anything under 3 -4X normal with the ALT isn't really cause for concern as long as the dog is otherwise healthy. Toby's has been this way for about 3 years now.
More important....about boarding....
CALL the place you plan to board him! Ask them if he *really* needs the distemper/parvo series. Tell them he doesn't have a spleen and you'd prefer not to vaccinate him if it's not necessary.
I board several dogs for whom I don't require shots beyond rabies and kennel cough, and a note from the vet saying that for medical reasons it is not in the dog's best interest to have any other vaccinations.
We gave my Tiny and my Toby both *one last* distemper/parvo shot when they were 10 and 11 (the 3 year shot). The vet says there's no point in giving any more to them, even with their high exposure risk, because with all the shots they've had they are most certainly protected for life.
FWIW.

\PS....sometimes antibiotics cause stomach upsets. As does eating stuff they shouldn't....

Well, Copper got his blood panel done today and it was all good! :)
He was not feeling well this morning and had seemed a little off yesterday as well. He threw up his breakfast and that was enough for me!:doh:

Off we went to the vet for a full checkup. It turns out that the insect bite he had checked on Saturday has caused a systemic reaction. I had some questions about how it was doing, but he was on antibiotics and I was giving him benedryl and spraying the area with GentaVed spray. What else could I do???:no:

The only value that was a little off was his liver value. It was 158 and shouldn't be higher than 150. They think it was a little high due to his system's reaction to whatever bit/stung him.

So now all he is missing is the thyroid test and we shall get that done as soon as time and money allow.

He got a steroid and anti-inflammatory shot and is to stay on antiibiotics for anther week. I shall see how he is doing this evening.

he did not want to eat when we got home so I left him sleeping in the car (his favorite) with the doors open and drove my husband's SUV to work. Is he a little spoiled?:p:

I put a dog biscuit by his muzzle in case he decided he wanted it, but pesky little brother Jack stole it and was sleeping with in the driver's seat.
 

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I don't do anything unless I see something unusual or different happening. I definitely do not vaccinate older dogs except for legally required rabies every three years.
 
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