Geriatric Care for Senior Pets
As they continue to age, senior dogs and cats require routine preventative care and early diagnosis in their golden years to help them maintain a good quality of life.
With diligent care during regularly scheduled routine exams, we can help extend your pet's life and great health. This is why it's important that they attend regular pet checkups, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians can help geriatric pets in Stockton achieve ideal health by diagnosing and treating developing health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while they can still be managed easily and effectively.
Typical Health Issues
Our companion cats and dogs are living much longer today than they have in the past, thanks in large part due to better quality veterinary care and improved dietary options.
While this is certainly a great turn of fortunes, pet owners and their veterinarians now also face more age-related conditions than they did in the past.
Senior pets are typically prone to these conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
Bone or joint disorders can become a problem once dogs reach their golden years, as they can cause discomfort and pain. Some common joint and bone disorders in geriatric pets that our veterinarians see regularly include growth plate disorders, reduction in spinal flexibility, hip dysplasia, arthritis and osteochondrosis.
Having these issues addressed early will play a vital role in keeping your dog comfortable as they continue to age. For senior dogs, treatment for joint and bone issues ranges from simply reducing exercise levels to using anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics to surgery to reduce pain, remove diseased tissue or stabilize joints.
While osteoarthritis is typically a condition we think of in older dogs, this painful condition can also affect your senior cat's joints.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats are more subtle than those in dogs. While cats can experience a decrease in range of motion the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats include weight loss, loss of appetite, depression, change in general attitude, poor grooming habits, urination or defecation outside the litter pan, and inability to jump on and off objects. Lameness typically seen in dogs is not commonly reported by cat owners.
It is believed that approximately 50% of all pets in the US die from cancers. That's why it's important for your senior pet to visit the vet for routine wellness exams as they age.
Bringing your geriatric pet in for routine checkups even when they seem healthy allows your veterinarian to examine them for early signs of cancer and other diseases which respond better to treatment when caught in their earliest stages.
- Heart Disease
Like people, heart disease can be a problem for geriatric pets.
Senior dogs commonly suffer from congestive heart failure, which occurs when the heart isn't pumping blood efficiently, causing fluid to back up in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
While heart disease is seen less in cats than in dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is relatively common. This condition causes the walls of a cat’s heart to thicken, decreasing the heart’s ability to function efficiently.
- Blindness and hearing loss
Degeneration in the eyes and ears can lead to varying degrees of deafness and blindness in older pets, although this is more common in dogs than in cats.
When these conditions are age-related they may come on slowly, allowing geriatric pets to adjust their behavior and making it difficult for pet owners to notice.
- Liver disease
In senior cats, liver disease is common and may be the result of high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of liver disease in cats include loss of appetite, jaundice, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst.
Liver disease in dogs can cause a number of serious symptoms including seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, and weight loss.
If your geriatric dog or cat is displaying any of the symptoms of liver disease, veterinary care is essential.
Although dogs and cats can develop diabetes at any age, most dogs are diagnosed at approximately 7-10 years of age and the majority of cats diagnosed with diabetes are over 6 years of age.
Symptoms of diabetes in dogs and cats include excessive thirst, increased appetite accompanied by weight loss, cloudy eyes, and chronic or recurring infections.
Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes in both cats and dogs.
- Kidney disease
As pets age, their kidneys tend to lose their function. In some cases, kidney disease can be caused by medications used to treat other common conditions seen in geriatric pets.
While chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, it can be managed with a combination of diet and medications.
- Urinary tract disease
Urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues are fairly common conditions for our Stockton vets to see in pets. As the muscles controlling the bladder weaken, elderly pets may become prone to accidents. That said, it's important to remember that incontinence might be a sign of a larger health issue such as dementia or a urinarty tract infection.
If your senior pet experiences incontinence issues, it's important to take your geriatric dog or cat in for a thorough examination.
Veterinary Care for Seniors
Our vets will thoroughly examine your senior pet, ask about their home life in detail and perform any tests that may be required to receive additional insight into his or her general physical health and condition.
Based on the findings, we'll recommend a treatment plan that can potentially include medications, activities and dietary changes that may help improve your senior pet's health, well-being and comfort.
Preventative care is critical to helping your senior pet live a fulfilled, happy and healthy life. It also offers our veterinarians the opportunity to identify diseases early.
By detecting diseases as soon as possible, we can help preserve your pet's physical health and catch emerging health issues before they become long-term problems.
With regularly scheduled physical exams, your pet will have the best chance at great long-term health.