Senior Exams

Providing specialized care so senior pets can age gracefully.

Why do senior pets need an exam every 6 months?

The age at which our pets are considered ‘seniors’ varies based on their breed but is generally around 8 years old. As our pets pass this milestone, they become more susceptible to age-related illnesses like arthritis, kidney disease, thyroid disease, heart disease, liver disease, vision or hearing loss, and cognitive dysfunction. Owners may attribute the changes they see to their pet “slowing down from old age”, but aging itself isn’t a disease! Semi-annual exams allow your veterinarian to diagnose and treat the specific health conditions that are affecting your pet, so that they feel better and live longer.

Common conditions that affect senior pets, like kidney and thyroid disease, can develop quietly and progress rapidly. However, if they are detected early through monitoring labwork – before your pet starts to show symptoms – there are treatments available that may add years to your pet’s life. Once a pet’s organ function has changed so much that symptoms appear, the treatment options for many of these illnesses are much more limited, and they progress more quickly.

Does my senior pet need a semi-annual exam even if they are healthy? 

Even if your senior pet seems to be in tip-top shape, semi-annual exams are a proactive way to keep them healthy and comfortable for as long as possible. Evolution taught cats and dogs to hide signs of pain and illness to protect themselves from predators, so by the time they show symptoms at home your pet’s health issues may be quite advanced. Our highly trained and experienced veterinarians have a keen eye for subtle physical and behavioural clues that may indicate an underlying health issue with your pet, and senior labwork can catch early changes on the inside, while they are easier and cheaper to treat. Remember, every calendar year that passes is the equivalent of seven years for dogs and cats, and the aging process accelerates in later years. This means that even a semi-annual vet visit is the same as a human senior citizen only seeing a doctor every three and a half years or less. A lot can change in that amount of time! 

What happens during a senior pet exam? 

During the first part of your visit, one of our veterinary technicians will obtain your pet’s medical history by asking you questions about your pet’s eating and drinking, energy level, bowel and bladder habits, behaviour, and if you have noticed anything new or that you are concerned about. The questions we ask are designed to probe early warning signs for common health conditions, and they can also prompt you to remember any changes or questions you had forgotten about. 

The veterinarian will then perform a gentle but thorough physical examination, using Fear Free techniques and treats to reduce your pet’s stress and give them a good experience here. The veterinarian will examine your pet’s ears, eyes, nose, mouth and teeth, belly, skin and fur, limbs, and lymph nodes, and listen to their heart and lungs, looking for any subtle signs that could indicate a concern.

What tests should my pet have done at their senior exam? 

If the veterinarian finds anything they are concerned about during their physical exam or discussion with you, they may recommend additional testing to investigate what is going on inside your pet’s body. Whether your pet is doing well, showing early symptoms of disease, or managing a chronic health condition, your veterinarian can recommend an appropriate senior wellness monitoring labwork panel. Annual Accuplex testing for heartworm and tick-borne diseases like Lyme is important for dogs, and we recommend combining it with wellness monitoring labwork and doing both together at one of their two exams each year, to minimize visits and take advantage of special laboratory discounts on combined testing. 

If your pet is having any of these tests done, we will collect blood and/or urine samples during their visit. Yearly fecal testing for intestinal worms and other parasites is recommended for pets that go outside, hunt rodents or bugs, or are extra-interested in other animals’ poop – you can bring a fresh grape-sized sample to your appointment, or we can give you a collection container to drop off later. 

Practice information

Bloorcourt Veterinary Clinic

  • Mon
    8:00am – 8:00pm
  • Tue
    8:00am – 8:00pm
  • Wed
    8:00am – 1:30pm & 3:00pm – 8:00pm
  • Thu
    8:00am – 8:00pm
  • Fri
    8:00am – 8:00pm
  • Sat
    9:00am – 3:00pm
  • Sun
    Closed (Sundays & Holidays)

After-Hours Emergencies

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Find us here:

1074 Bloor Street West Toronto, Ontario, M6H 1M6
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For after-hours emergencies, please call: