Does my old dog really need expensive tests?
By Morieka Johnson, Mother Nature Network: CNN Living
During their daily walks in St. Louis, Kelly Jackson and her pint-sized Shih tzu, Meeko, used to run into plenty of pet lovers. But as soon as the conversation turned to Meeko’s age, it was Jackson who got feisty.
“I’d give his age and they go, ‘Awww,’” Jackson says. “I don’t want sympathy. Meeko may be 12.5, but he’s a force to be reckoned with.”
After years of anchoring a morning news show, Jackson decided to follow a different path and launched AARFF.com to help people identify and prevent health issues that can shorten a pet’s life span. Meeko died earlier this year, but Jackson’s beloved pooch serves as inspiration for stories, photo galleries and even adoption information featuring older pets.
“People who parent senior pets don’t realize that their pets are seniors — or they don’t want to admit and accept that their pets are seniors,” she says. “I was even that way with Meeko when he was 8 or 9, which is considered a senior for a small breed. Once they do get into the senior stage, you really should start taking measures to address issues early on.”
Preventative measures include scheduling veterinary exams that may involve additional blood work to check for potential age-related problems. Dr. Arhonda Johnson, owner of The Ark Animal Hospital in Atlanta, offers clients a senior package that emphasizes dental care and blood work.
However, the first step in providing preventative care involves understanding specifically when your pet is considered a senior. Dogs that weigh less than 20 pounds reach their senior years around 7 to 9 years old, Johnson says. Giant breeds like Great Danes reach their golden years around 6 or 7 years old.
“All dogs are geriatric when they reach the double-digits,” Johnson says, “but we start having the senior dog conversation at 7 for large-breed dogs.”
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Does my old dog really need expensive tests