Senior Care/Geriatric Workups, Part 2: The Checklist

It is amazing to me how many clinical signs of disease are dismissed as "just getting older".  It is certainly true that old age will bring about some degenerative changes that we cannot remedy.  On the other hand, many diseases of the older pet are very treatable. 

I have listed common signs of disease that should be recognized as needing further handling, rather than being dismissed as "just getting older".  They are listed in four categories (and some will show up in multiple categories): Quality of Life (Pet’s), Quality of Life (Owner’s), Pain, and Shortened Life Span.

Quality of Life (Pet’s): Can’t see well, can’t hear well, itchy skin, greasy skin, flaky skin, too thin, overweight, difficulty rising, difficulty walking, difficulty climbing, difficulty jumping, sleeps excessively, restless or sleeps poorly, poor endurance, incontinence (wets herself), diarrhea, constipation, thick or scaly footpads or nose, gets lost, confused, disoriented, less interaction with family, mattery eyes, crusty nose

Quality of Life (Owner’s): Odor from mouth, odor from ears, odor from skin, odor from rear, vomiting, spitting up, diarrhea, incontinence (wets the bed), "accidents" in the house, excessive barking, whining, scratching constantly, decreased responsiveness, less playful, excessive shedding, confused, disoriented, doesn’t greet, skin is dry or flaky or greasy or just "looks bad", sleeps all the time, restless or poor sleep, excessive urination

PAIN: Difficulty rising, difficulty walking, limping, difficulty jumping, difficulty climbing, bad odor from mouth, restless, sleeping poorly, coughing, gagging, excessive panting, heavy or difficult breathing, tremors or shaking, less enthusiastic greeting, less playful, decreased responsiveness, grumpy disposition, mattery eyes, squinting, barking, whining, moaning, poor appetite

Shortened Life Span: Vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, coughing, gagging, lumps, tumors, excessive water drinking, excessive urination, excessive appetite, poor appetite, weight loss, poor coat condition, hair loss, unusual shedding, bad odor from mouth, poor endurance, circling, repetitive movements

Tomorrow in Part 3 I will discuss the practical application of these principles.

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