Tuesday, September 20, 2011

621. Health screening for your older dog - update

Health Screening For the Older Dogs
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
Date: 21 September, 2011 toapayohvets.com
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129
Most pet owners in Singapore live hectic lives. There is just too many distractions and too much work.

After an intense care for their puppies, the senior dogs are just left alone as there is no time for them after their puppyhood. It is usually too late for many dogs when they are sent to the veterinarian for some chronic disease problems. Veterinary costs become high as the dog is in poor health and need more intensive care.

Senior dogs are:
Small and Medium-sized breeds: Over 7 years
Large and Giant-sized breeds: Over 5 years.

For those who may want their senior dogs to live longer, here are the following recommendations available at Toa Payoh Vets:

1. Veterinary examination every 6-12 months including examination for tumours and growths, ear infections, eye diseases, skin diseases
2. Blood tests to check for blood disorders, diabetes, liver and kidney diseases.
3. Urine tests to check on bladder and kidney infections and presence of urinary stones.
4. X-rays for arthritic hip joints (can't stand up easily), spinal column, heart and lungs.
5. Dental check up and scaling every year.
6. Heart check for murmurs and heart diseases.
7. Stool test for blood, parasites
8. A report and discussion about the delay in senility, obesity, behavioural problems, skin problems and any questions related to each individual dog. Tumours detected early can be excised saving the dog's life and reducing veterinary costs.

An example of the investigation tests and surgeries done for one older dog with heart disease and another with gum tumour is shown below

Case 1: Heart disease confirmed in an old companion
Cardiac Tamponade in a Labrador Retriever - Pt 1 Cardiac Tamponade in a Labrador Retriever - Pt 2
subcutaneous swelling - edema - cardiac tamponade - heart base tumour likely - toapayohvets, singapore Cardiac tamponade, 13 days after pericardiocentesis, lab retriever, toapayohvets, singapore Labrador Retriever, Male, 8 years, short of breath, transthoracic echocardiography, toapayohvets, singapore
labrador retriever, male, 8 years, skin swellings, cardiac tamponade, toapayohvets, singapore labrador retriever, male, 8 years, skin swellings, cardiac tamponade, toapayohvets, singapore Labrador Retriever, Male, 8 years, short of breath, transthoracic echocardiography, toapayohvets, singapore

Case 2: Get tumours excised by your vet when they are smaller
Large cancerous gum and hard palate tumour. Jack Russell, 10 years. Toa Payoh Vets Isoflurane Gas Anaesthesia. Electro-cutting removed gum tumour first. Note hard palate tumour. Toa Payoh Vets
Large cancerous gum and hard palate tumour. Jack Russell, 10 years. Toa Payoh Vets Large cancerous gum and hard palate tumour. Jack Russell, 10 years. Toa Payoh Vets
Electrosurgery stops profuse bleeding during gum & hard palate tumour removal. Toa Payoh Vets Gum and hard palate tumours in old dogs can be prevented with good dental hygiene and health. Toa Payoh Vets.
Large cancerous gum and hard palate tumou excised. Jack Russell, 10 years. Toa Payoh Vets Jack Russell, Gum & Hard Palate Tumour excised. Vet Intern. Toa Payoh Vets.
Old dogs are very high anaesthetic risks as they are seldom in the best of health unlike younger ones. Everyone is happy when the old dog does not die on the operating table after surgery. But every vet will have cases of old dogs dying on the operating table as it is impossible to get good clinical outcomes when the vets undertake high-risk16 years old fox terrier, not neutered, male, circum-anal, tail gland tumours, toapayohvets, singapore anaesthetics. This is one main reason why some vets discourage or reject old dog surgeries. "The old dog will pass away before the circum-anal tumours grow much bigger," one vet said to the owner. But the dog lived longer, splattering the apartment with blood from the bleeding tumour and requiring frequent cleaning up.

When a dog dies on the operating table, it is just too emotional for everyone including the operating veterinary surgeon. Such deaths may be bad-mouthed by the owner or the family members to friends and recorded on the internet forum. The bad news adversely affect a vet's reputation that takes so much time and effort to build. So it is understandable if a vet does not want to operate on high-risk cases. I do avoid such cases if possible as deaths on the operating table means a beloved family member that has been growing up with the family children who have become adults is lost forever.

The average life-span of a big breed dog is 12 years. Oldest small breeds in Singapore can live up to 20 years. However, many die before they are 10 years of age due to bad health and other preventable causes such as bacterial infection of the heart valves due to severe gum diseases (preventable by regular 2-yearly dental scaling and checks), pyometra (preventable by early detection or spaying), kidney diseases, diabetes and tumours like breast, gum and circum-anal tumours. Many diseases such as circum-anal tumours rarely occur in male dogs that have been neutered. If you don't wish to neuter your dog, please check his backside monthly as small circum-anal tumours are easily removed and cost you less too.

Tumours are best removed when they are small.

Make an appointment with your pet shop groomer if you have a close working relationship with them and needs pet transport to the vet of your choice. Or tel 6254-3326, 9668-6469 for an appointment to discuss health screening for your senior companion. Or e-mail judy@toapayohvets.com your requirements.

Website with images are at:
http://www.toapayohvets.com/surgery/20080807Senior_Dogs_Health_Checks_ToaPayohVets.htm

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