Rochelle Campbell, DVM
As your pet ages, it is especially important to maintain their veterinary care. Older pets can have a number of health issues, ranging from arthritis to diabetes. It is important to have a veterinarian perform a physical exam at least once every six months (or more frequently if your pet has been diagnosed with a chronic condition or an underlying disease process). Even if your pet seems healthy overall, it is a good idea to consider doing bloodwork and even a urinalysis at least once a year to check for early signs of a disease process that may be lurking under the surface. Some examples of disease processes that may be detected with bloodwork and a urine test include liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism (usually in cats), hypothyoidism (usually in dogs) or Cushing's disease (hyperadrenocorticism). Even if the bloodwork and urine sample results are normal, it is still good that there are now baseline values for future reference should your pet later become ill. Sometimes X-rays may also be recommended by your veterinarian to look for any changes to your pet's internal organs or bony structures.
If your pet seems to drink more, urinate more, seems to limp/be lame or just seems "off" then certainly a visit to the vet's office is in order. Even if it is determined that your pet has a condition that is chronic and cannot be resolved completely, there will almost always be a treatment option that will at least improve your pet's day-to-day quality of life. So remember, regular check-ups will help your pet live a longer, happier life!