When dogs reach the age of 7, they are considered to be senior patients. During this time disease and physiological changes occur rapidly and yearly exams are no longer frequent enough. Remember, dogs are aging many times faster than we are. At this age the doctors like to check up on canine patients every 6 months, with a special focus on the neuromuscular system and vital organ function.
Senior adult dogs receive the same vaccines as puppies, but have a more developed immune system which has been introduced to the vaccines already, and therefore need those vaccines less frequently. Rabies is required by law in the state of North Carolina, but only needs to be boosted every 3 years in a senior adult dog. Bordetella is boosted every 6 months through an intra-nasal injection. Distemper/parvo/hepatitis can be boosted once a year or once every 3 years with our alternate combo vaccine. Leptospirosis must be boosted every year as part of the one year distemper/parvo/hepatitis combo or as a separate vaccine with the 3 year distemper/parvo/hepatitis.
As a senior, your dog needs to continue the heartworm and flea preventatives every month. We also check once every year to make sure they have not picked up any worms by running a heartworm test as well as a fecal (intestinal parasite) test.
For a senior dog, we need to start using a more encompassing blood panel, a Senior Wellness Panel. This continues to check the vital functions of a Junior Wellness Panel, but also screens for other problems that began to appear more often in elderly pets, including endocrine disease, diabetes, and urinary infections.
Dental Care for Your Senior Dog
Elderly dogs will require dental cleanings more often than young adults. Remember, both their teeth and internal systems are aging much more rapidly than our own!