Mid-life Surveillance


I’m the owner of two middle-aged dogs. I’m also a friend to many people with senior dogs with serious medical conditions. I’ve started worrying about my middle-aged dogs, especially Otto, my 70-pound wonder mutt / “heart dog.” (Small dogs live longer, so I’m less worried about 10-pound Tito, who lives with us but who keeps his own counsel and has never achieved “heart” status with either my husband or I.)

I know that every disease is best treated early, so I’m scheduling a major middle-aged wellness exam for Otto next week, in preparation for his first dental cleaning. I’ve had his blood tested annually, for blood cell counts and blood chemistry – and for vaccine titers. (He was vaccinated a LOT at the shelter I adopted him from when he was about 7 months old, and not since, except for rabies as required by law and once, a bordetella vaccine that was required in order to admit him to an agility class. His vaccine titers have always come back super strong.)

In addition to blood tests, I’m going to discuss with the vet whether it might be a good idea for a full body x-ray or any other scans that might detect any abnormalities, such as signs of cancer or enlarged organs.

I’m also waiting for the recommendations offered by one of WDJ’s regular writers, Cynthia Foley, who is researching and writing an article for an upcoming issue of WDJ on this very topic. Yes, my paranoia is so great, that I asked one of our writers to prepare an article on middle-aged to senior-dog wellness exams, so that I could follow her/our experts’ recommendations for detecting problems early. Of course, I’ll be sharing that information with WDJ readers as soon as possible.

In the meantime, I’ll ask all of you, too! What early detection / senior wellness tips does your veterinarian recommend? What tests have been vital to catching your dogs’ illnesses early? (Or, conversely, which tests do you wish you had scheduled earlier than you did?)