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Senior Pet Health

Senior animals require more frequent health check-ups than younger animals, as they are more vulnerable to health problems. The best health care approach for senior cats and dogs is preventative care with early disease detection and treatment.

To provide the highest possible quality of life for our senior patients, The Parkway Veterinary Hospital has developed a Senior Healthcare Plan.

When is an animal considered a senior?

A dog’s breed and size play a role in determining when a dog is considered senior, but in general, a dog that is 7-8 yeas or older is considered a Senior. Cats are considered Senior at or around 10 years of age. Some cats exhibit age-related physical or behavioral changes between 7 & 10 years old, and most will show some signs by the time they are 12 years old.

What signs do I look for?

As your pet ages, there are many changes that can occur-often without your even noticing. It is important that you closely monitor your animal’s health including any physical and behavioral changes and report them to your veterinarian as soon as you notice them.

Changes to look for include:

  • Body weight gain or loss
  • Water intake, especially increased in consumption
  • Appetite loss
  • Decreased activity level
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Attitude or behavior changes
  • Skin masses or growths
  • Bad Breath
  • Hearing & Vision loss
  • Stiffness
  • Litterbox/housetraining lapses
  • Disorientation

Because pets age approximately 5-7 years each year as compared to humans, we recommend Senior patients receive a check up every 6 months as part of the plan. During each visit we evaluate every organ system, check weight and body condition and compare with previous evaluations, along with diagnostic screens. More frequent evaluations may be necessary if your animal has a medical condition. Your pets comprehensive senior evaluation begins with a questionnaire that you fill out after observing your pets behaviors. This form can be mailed to you prior to your appointment or you can click on the link below to download the form. Our client service representatives will be happy to set up your pets senior pet exam.

Download the senior pet wellness questionnaire form.

Vaccine Recommendations — UPDATED OCTOBER 2009

While it has long been recognized that vaccinations have been hugely instrumental in preventing disease and its spread, they are not entirely benign, and have been implicated in a small percentage of undesirable reactions and side-effects.

It response to these issues, the American Animal Hospital Associations (AAHA) Canine Vaccine Task Force, comprised of internal medicine specialists and veterinarians, and chaired by a past president of AAHA, has made recommendations regarding the frequency and use of canine vaccines. As part of our continued efforts as animal health-care providers, The Parkway Veterinary Hospital has adopted and implemented the following recommendations for maximal disease prevention and safety for your pet.

Dog Vaccine Recommendations

RV (Rabies)Given every 3 years after the 1st yearly booster. Initial vaccine given 5-6mo of age.
DHPP (distemper, hepatititis, parainfluenza, parvovirus)Given every 2-3 years after the 1st yearly booster. *
Bordetella (kennel cough)Every 6 to 12 months
Corona and all other vaccinesNot Recommended

* Serology blood testing for the presence of protective antibodies may be necessary on the years the DHPP vaccine is not given.

Cat Vaccine Recommendations

RV (Rabies)Given every 3 years after the 1st yearly booster. Initial vaccine given 5-6mo of age.
FVRCP (distemper, hepatititis, parainfluenza, parvovirus)Given every 2-3 years after the 1st yearly booster.
FELV (kennel cough)Yearly booster for cats that go outside, visit boarding or grooming facilities. Indoor only cats can discontinue this vaccine after the 1st adult booster.
FIPNot Recommended

West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus (WNV) is a virus that can cause disease within the central nervous system and is transmitted from one species to the next by a mosquito. Dogs and cats are very resistant to developing WNV and pose no threat of spreading the disease. If you are concerned about WNV, you can apply topical products that will repel mosquitoes; Avon’s Skin So Soft and Citronella are safe for pets. Products intended for people containing DEET (N-N-diethyl-m-tolumide) should not be used on pets since they are very harmful for dogs and cats if ingested. Bayer recently introduced K9 Advantix that has excellent mosquito repellency and also kills fleas and ticks for upto 4 weeks. However, this product is VERY TOXIC TO CATS and should be used with extreme caution around them. For more information refer to the Centers for Disease Control web page at and search for West Nile Virus.

Local Diseases

Flea season is from spring through summer, but it can last year round in western Oregon’s moderate climate. Flea bites cause local skin irritation and swelling that may cause your pet discomfort. Some dogs and cats develop an allergic reaction to fleabites, often resulting in scratching, bacterial infection, tapeworms. Controlling fleas is key. The Parkway Veterinary Hospital carries several flea prevention options, including house sprays, shampoos, topical and oral flea treatments.

Fish Disease or Salmon Poisoning is caused by a microorganism that lives in freshwater fish. Dogs get very sick when they eat the remains of infected raw fish. Most cases occur with a dog has eaten a dead fish or the remains of a dead fish on the banks of a river or a stream. The signs of Salmon Poisoning are very similar to parvo virus infections, including: high temperature, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy and swollen lymph nodes.

Learn more regarding H1N1 and Your Pet in our Pet Health Article, and see the newscast on KOIN 6.

Traveling with your Pet

Visit our links page for pet friendly accommodation in Oregon. If you find yourself leaving Oregon and/or Washington State in your car with your pets, please check with us for border restrictions. If you plan to travel by airplane, we suggest you call your airline for travel requirements.