Senior Pet Wellness

Virginia Beach Animal Hospital- Birdneck Animal Hospital

Senior Pet Wellness Plan

American Veterinary Medical Association

Is My Pet a "Senior"?


Pets age faster than people. You have probably heard that one year in a human's life equals seven "pet years". This is actually fairly accurate (see chart to right). Many factors affect aging; species, breed, weight, nutrition and even environment. Pets are now considered a "senior" at 7 years of age. As dogs and cats age, they, like people, have a greater risk of developing certain diseases and conditions. However, when such diseases and conditions are detected in their early stages, it makes it possible to delay the progression and possibly treat to cure these conditions. Dr. Wayne Johnson, your Virginia Beach Veterinarian, wants to help you take good care of your pets as they age.

The "Senior" Program

Because our pets age faster than we do, they can develop diseases and conditions in a short period of time. For this reason, our animal hospital recommends our patients to have a thorough evaluation at least every 6 months. This evaluation includes a thorough and complete physical exam, dental/oral exam, intestinal parasite screening, heartworm and tick disease screening, and individualized vaccination recommendations. When your pet is seven years old or older annual blood chemistry profiles, complete blood cell counts, urinalysis, and thyroid testing are recommended. Other tests that may be recommended (depending on your pet's age and condition) are; EKG, X-rays and abdominal ultrasound. After test results are received, the doctor will discuss the results with you and any needed treatments, further testing, and/or nutritional changes. Even when normal, these tests give us very valuable "baseline data" on which to compare future results and detect even small changes early in the course of disease. In the case where a condition is found, you'll know that it was found as early as possible and treatment can begin. This way we can work with you to help your pet live a long, healthy, and happy life.

Health Profile
A blood chemistry test that checks twelve different values concerning the kidneys, liver, cholesterol, proteins and blood sugar. This can show us signs of liver or kidney disease, diabetes, dehydration, and many other conditions.

Checks levels of sodium, potassium and chloride. Normal electrolyte values are critical for proper function of the heart and muscles. Abnormalities can be an indication of multiple diseases.

A complete blood count test checks the number and appearance of the different types of blood cells. Abnormalities can indicate many conditions including anemia, infection and parasites.

Thyroid Test
The T4 test checks the level of the thyroid hormone that helps to regulate the body's metabolism. If it is too high, it can hurt the heart and kidneys, and cause your pet to lose weight. If it is too low, it can lower the immune system, making your pet more susceptible to infections and cause weight gain even when eating very little. When the initial T4 test is abnormal, sometimes it is necessary to confirm the condition with a second thyroid test called a Free T4 (unfortunately the test isn't free of charge, it's just the name of the test!)

This test tells us a lot more than whether there is a urinary tract infection. It can also warn us about problems with the kidneys, liver, hydration, urinary crystals and stones, and diabetes.

Chest X-Rays
Radiographs of the chest can warn us of problems developing with the heart, lungs, trachea, esophagus and other structures.

The EKG or ECG gives us a view of what is going on electrically within the heart. This tracing can warn us of abnormal heart rhythms and give us an idea of existing enlargement or compression of the heart chambers.

Blood Pressure
As in people, an elevated blood pressure can cause problems with the heart, kidneys, eyes and other organs.

Abdominal Ultrasound
This is a fantastic way to examine the organs of the belly. The ultrasound allows us to safely and non-invasively examine the inside of the organs. It can alert us to problems developing, sometimes before they even show up in the blood work or urine.

Radiologist Consultation
Our Virginia Beach, VA veterinarian, Dr. Wayne Johnson, sends our abdominal ultrasound images over the internet to a radiologist. This specialist reads the images and consults with our doctor about your pet's case. As reading and interpreting the images is what the radiologist does all the time, he/she may pick up subtle changes that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Virginia Beach Veterinarian | Birdneck Animal Hospital
508 North Birdneck Rd Suite C
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
Phone: (757) 355-5694


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Feedback from our clients

  • "Words can not begin to express our gratitude for the care you had given Hunter over the years. When his time came, he watched for you to come through the door and his tail showed his affection towards you. That was most comforting having you there. Thank you.""
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Maggie over the years. Y'all are the best and Dr. Johnson, you are the best vet in the world! God bless you all.""
    ~ J.D.
  • ""Your care for my beloved Mattie these last 10n years made her life, and mine much better….God bless each of you for all you did for us and I'm sure for all your other two and four legged patients.""
  • ""Thank you for saving my life." ~T.C."
  • ""I can not express how grateful I am for you and your staff… I appreciate everything you did in Beckham's treatment. He was so lucky to have such a wonderful doctor on his side. Thank you for all you do for the benefit of all our beloved pets.""
  • ""Dr. Johnson - There are no words that can truly capture your kindness.""
  • ""Thank you for the great care you took of Taco and the rest of our family. He is doing great now! He is enjoying running and playing with all four legs again.""
  • ""People who avail themselves of your services at the clinic certainly are blessed to have such a caring staff....bless you and your devoted staff.""
  • ""A sincere thank you for taking such good care of Dulce. We are so thrilled that she is back to her normal self. You gave her the support and care she needed in her darkest hours and kept us confident in her recovery.""
  • ""Just to say how much we appreciate all of you. You all are wonderful people. We feel blessed to have our beloved furry children in your care when they need it. Your professional knowledge and your acts of kindness have a beautiful act all it's own. You are a great vet, compassionate and everything good all in one. You are in our daily prayers.""
  • ""Thank you and all of your staff for the excellent care you gave to my wonderful Abbey, who was so much a part of the family. Thank you for all the advice and support you gave to me these last few months. I don't know how I would have gotten through this without your constant support. I will, and I have highly recommended you to family and friends, as I feel you are the best!""
  • ""Thank you for taking care of my kitty, Slingshot. He is feeling better and better. My Paw-Paw said that you took extra special care of him and I really appreciate it. So, thank you again for taking care of my cat.""
    ~T.B. (age 6)
  • ""Dr. Johnson, I don't know why you decided to move here from your home in New Jersey, but I absolutely believe it was so you could help me and Mickey. I know coming to someone's home is not what a typical veterinarian would do, but you are obviously an extraordinary man in a world filled with ordinary men….On top of that, your sensitive and wonderful handwritten note arrived and touched my heart…You are one of those quiet, unheralded champions who make life easier for everyone you touch.""
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Lola when she had her reaction, and your office was already closed. I know you took time away from yourself and your family and I really appreciate it.""
  • ""Thank you for giving me more time with my best friend. We are all so grateful.""
  • ""Thank you for all of your support for Maxine during her illness. All was very much appreciated and will always be remembered. I have related to all my friends of what a great doctor and staff at Birdneck Animal Hospital.""
  • ""Thank you for taking such good care of me over the last 4 years. I am doing well and both legs and feet feel great. You sis an awesome job on me Dr. Johnson, and I'm gonna have a great year this year and I hope to see you only for my check up. You guys are the best!""
  • "We can't thank you enough for the wonderful and loving care you gave to"Budkus" while he was in your care. He was so little and so sick and we were so scared for him. Each and every one of the staff members made us feel like we had the only dog in the world. Like nothing else mattered except getting "Budkus" well again. Our deepest gratitude to all of you for the excellent care and attention we received, for your encouragement, comfort, and understanding, and most importantly for saving his life! Thank you so much.""
    ~ J.,B.,C.