Enroll your animal in our SHIP-shapetm program and
Discover the Power of Prevention and Early Detection
Most senior health programs for our companion animals are based on a regular examination and some blood work. But significant medical problems can escape the detection of even the most astute veterinarian, disease can be well-advanced before it shows up in blood tests, and unlike humans who can verbalize that they don’t feel quite “right” as an early warning, our animals can’t. So, while the annual physical is still important, Smith Ridge has created a pro-active imaging program that can uncover asymptomatic and often life-threatening diseases generally not detectable by physical exam or standard screening tests. This allows for intervention and management of disease in the early stages, when medical therapy and treatment options are typically less costly, less invasive and more effective.
Q: What is the SHIP-shapetm program?
A: The Senior Health Imaging Profiletm uses an upper body x-ray, an abdominal x-ray and an abdominal ultrasound to screen the heart, lungs, liver, kidney, spleen, gall bladder, intestines and spine for visual evidence of disease such as nodules, masses, cysts, tumors or degeneration. "Screening" means looking for a medical condition which is not showing symptoms in the hope of identifying problems early, when treatment can be most effective. There are many screening tests that look for different abnormalities. For example, a very popular screening test for women is the mammogram. Most mammograms are done on women who do not have a lump in the breast or other evidence of breast cancer; it is done as a preventive measure in hopes of catching breast cancer at an early stage.
Q: What kind of problems might be detected with the SHIP-shapetm program?
A: Upper body issues that might be detected include:
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Arthritis of the spine or of the rib and breast areas
Spondylosis (degenerative changes of the spine/vertebrae)
The lower body imaging will look for:
Abdominal masses (especially in the spleen, liver and kidney)
Q: Does my animal have to be anesthetized?
A: No, in most cases the x-rays and the ultrasound can be performed on a fully awake animal. It can also be performed at any other time your animal might already be under anesthesia, such as during a dental procedure. Whether awake or already anesthetized, the x-rays and ultrasound are non-invasive and totally painless.
Q: What is a good age to run this imaging profile?
A: We recommend that you run this screening when your pet is 7 or 8 years old. It can be re-run every 2 years or so if you desire. You and your veterinarian can decide together whether a repeat screening is desirable or needed.
Q: Will running this profile guarantee that my animal is disease-free and healthy?
A: No screening test can screen for every possible cause of disease, so it is possible to have a normal screen with the SHIP-shapetm program and still suffer illness. Additionally, some medical problems develop quickly – so a screen could be normal and a growth (as an example) could form and become significant just a short time after the imaging was performed. However, with the use of our high resolution digital x-ray and our ultrasound, and in conjunction with metabolic screening via blood tests, an imaging profile gives your veterinarian the best chance to get a “peek” at your aging pet’s body and intervene quickly if a problem is identified.
Q: Why haven’t I ever heard of another veterinarian recommending something like this?
A: Smith Ridge has created this concept and service. Many veterinarians will run an ultrasound and x-rays on their own aging pets – just because they easily can, and because they realize that there is value in getting a visual look inside their animals. But no one believed that clients would be willing to pay for advanced imaging on a preventative basis. However, typical Smith Ridge clients are very pro-active in caring for their animals’ health, so we wanted to offer this imaging option to them. It’s not for everybody, but it can provide comfort to some clients and
better health for their animals.