Visiting the Veterinarian Regularly
Hopefully your dog already has a good holistic veterinarian whom you both like and feel comfortable with, because once your dog is a senior you'll be seeing the veterinarian a lot more frequently. Many veterinarians recommend that senior dogs have examinations about once every six months.
While this may sound like a lot of office visits, seeing the veterinarian often will help her spot any health problems, such as kidney disease, early while they're treatable. When dogs are up in years, their health changes rapidly. Don't assume that a health problem is simply old age. Holistic care is all about prevention.
The Senior Exam
It's a good idea to schedule the first geriatric exam when your dog turns seven years old. This helps establish a baseline workup to compare with results of future exams as your dog ages.
Your veterinarian will perform laboratory tests that include complete blood work and urinalysis to screen for kidney and liver function, infection, or anemia. A vaccine titer test to measure antibody levels and a heartworm test should also be done if your dog has not been on continuous heartworm preventative. Your veterinarian's senior physical exam will evaluate:
Condition of ears, eyes, mouth, teeth, and gums
Diarrhea or constipation
Heart and lungs
Loss of or increase in appetite
Skin and coat problems
Stiffness in joints
Weight gain or loss
You can help your veterinarian evaluate your dog's condition by keeping a written health log. By taking notes of any small changes in your dog's appearance and behavior, you'll be able to remember the details of anything unusual that comes up between appointments and report them to your veterinarian.