Geriatric Care for Senior Pets
To help them maintain a good quality of life as they continue to age, senior pets need routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis throughout their golden years.
Diligent care can help extend your pet's life and good health as they age, so it's important that they attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to assist geriatric pets in our animal hospital in Poway by identifying and treating emerging health issues early, while providing proactive treatments to pets while their health issues are still easily managed and treated.
Typical Health Problems
Because of the incredible improvements in dietary options and veterinary care techniques available now, our companion dogs and cats are living far longer than they ever have before.
While this is certainly something to be celebrated, pet owners and veterinarians now face more age-related conditions than they did in the past as well.
Senior pets are typically prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog reaches their golden years, there are a number of joint or bone disorders that can result in pain and discomfort. Some of the most common joint and bone disorders in geriatric pets that our veterinarians see include arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, reduction in spinal flexibility, and growth plate disorders.
Addressing these issues as early as possible is critical to keeping your pooch comfortable as they age. The treatment for bone and joint issues in senior dogs ranges from the simple reduction in their levels of exercise to the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, to surgeries to remove their diseased tissues, stabilize their joints and reduce their pain.
While dogs may be what typically come to mind when you think of osteoarthritis in senior pets, cats can also have their joints be affected by their painful condition.
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.
Because of this, bringing your geriatric pet in to see us for routine checkups, even when they seem healthy, will allow your veterinarian to examine them for early signs of cancer and other diseases that respond best to treatments when they are caught in their earliest stages.
- Heart Disease
Like people, heart disease can be a problem for geriatric pets.
Senior dogs will commonly suffer from congestive heart failure. This condition occurs when an animal's heart isn't pumping blood efficiently, causing fluid to build up in their chest cavity, their lungs and their heart.
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 develop because of age, they may advance slowly. This actually makes them more difficult to detect since your pet will be able to adjust their behaviors slowly to their new sensory faculties.
- 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.
While cats and dogs may develop dogs at any age, many dogs are diagnosed between the ages of 7 and 10, while most cats who are diagnosed with this condition are over 6 years old.
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
Our Poway vets often see geriatric cats and dogs with urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues. Elderly pets can be prone to accidents as the muscles controlling the bladder weaken, but it's important to note that incontinence could be a sign of a bigger health issue such as a urinary tract infection or dementia.
If your senior pet experiences incontinence issues it's important to take your geriatric dog or cat to the vet for a thorough examination.
Veterinary Care for Seniors
Our veterinarians will thoroughly examine your senior pet, inquire about their home life in detail, and perform any tests that may be needed to gain additional insight into their physical health and condition as they age.
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.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is essential to helping your senior pet live a healthy, happy and fulfilled life. It also gives our veterinarians the opportunity to detect diseases early.
The early detection of disease will help to preserve your pet's physical health and catch emergency health issues before they have a chance to develop into long-term and persistent problems.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.