Periodic exams for the geriatric patient



Periodic exams for the geriatric patient


By: Dr. Doron Neri and Dr. Naama Manor

As a rule of thumb, from the age of 6 to 8 years we regard our pets as middle aged, and from 10 to 12 years – they are senior citizens. Studies show that 20% of all dogs and cats above 6 yrs of age will have some abnormalities in their screening blood work without showing any clinical signs or suspected findings in their physical exam.

Early detection of medical problems (heart, kidney, liver disease and of course cancer) is of upmost importance since it has a crucial effect on the chances for recovery. Following is an outline of the different screening exams available for the early detection of problems before they become clinically apparent.


A none invasive exam which allows us to evaluate kidney function and to detect urinary infection, bladder calculi, liver disease and diabetes.

Blood work:
A minimally invasive exam, just a quick puncture of the vain. The exam detects anemia, infections, tick-born disease, liver and kidney disease, diabetes, different hormonal abnormalities, some forms of cancer (although most cancerous masses cannot be detected on blood tests), protein absorption and mineral concentration.

Chest radiology:
A none invasive exam which allows us to evaluate changes in the size of the heart and the patency of the lungs and lower airways. It can also provide evidence to Spirocerca Lupi (the Park worm) infection and to primary or metastatic masses in the lungs, and it can detect abnormalities of the thoracic vertebrae and the ribs.


Abdominal radiology:

A none invasive exam which demonstrates the size of the abdominal organs (stomach, liver, spleen, kidneys, prostate), and can detect masses, fluid or air in the abdominal cavity, kidney and bladder calculi, and abnormalities in the lumbar and sacral vertebrae.

Abdominal ultra-sound:
A none invasive exam which allows us to evaluate not only the size of the abdominal organs but also their consistency. It also demonstrates the smaller abdominal organs (pancreas, adrenal glands and abdominal lymph nodes). It can detect urinary tract diseases, gastrointestinal disease, liver disease, masses, fluid in the abdominal cavity and more.  

Obviously not every pet will need all of these exams. Cats and dogs of different sizes and breeds have different disease tendencies. A thorough veterinary physical exam will determine which of these exams is crucial to your pet.