Evaluating senior pets is something that we do every day. Senior pets needs some additional attention. While age is not a disease, early detection of aging issues can help prolong a pet's life and increase their quality of life as this aging process occurs.
As a technician, you are usually the first point of contact with the owner and their pet other than the receptionist. It is important to take a good history for each pet.
There are also questions you should specifically ask for pets that are over 6-7 years of age. As pets age, they may start to show symptoms of arthritis or dental disease. Many times these symptoms are overlooked by pet owners, or they assume that signs of aging are just a normal part of life. While these signs are part of aging, there are some things that can be done to keep the pet comfortable and potentially slow down this process.
In addition to your routine wellness questions, here are some questions you should also include:
1) What type of diet are you feeding? Many times owner will make comments such as, "I used to feed him dry food but now he will only eat wet food." These types of comments may suggest that the dog is having oral pain or periodontal disease.
2) Is he having problems getting up and around? Is he more stiff when he gets up in the morning? Have you noticed any limping? Are you giving your dog any joint supplements or medications currently?
3) Is your pet having any vomiting? If so, is this a new problem or is it happening regularly?
4) How is your pet's vision? Can he see ok? Any problems in the dark or bumping into things?
5) How is his/her hearing?
6) Have you noticed any new lumps or bumps on your pet recently? Are there any that have changed? If there are, make a note of where they are located for the exam.
Make a note in the chart about any concerns the owner has and let the doctor know before they go into the exam room. This will help communication and focus on the pet's current needs. As a veterinary technician, you make all the difference!
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Lori Hehn is a practicing veterinarian and a contributor and content manager with XPrep Learning Solutions. She has a drive for continual learning and enjoys interacting with veterinary and vet tech students. She also writes veterinary learning books for children.