Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
To help them maintain a good quality of life as they continue to age, a geriatric dog or cat needs routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis throughout their golden years.
Diligent care can help prolong your pet's life and good health, so it's important that they attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric cats and dogs in Beacon achieve optimal health by identifying and treating emerging health issues early and providing proactive treatment while we can still effectively manage them.
Typical Health Problems
Companion cats and dogs are living far longer lives than in the past, thanks to improved dietary options and better veterinary care.
While this is certainly cause for celebration, pet owners and veterinarians are now confronted with a greater number of age-related conditions than in the past.
The following conditions are common in senior pets:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog ages, there are a variety of joint and bone disorders that can cause pain and discomfort. Arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, decreased spinal flexibility, and growth plate disorders are some of the most common joint and bone disorders seen in geriatric dogs.
Addressing these issues early is critical to keep your dog comfortable as they age. Treatment for joint and bone problems can range from simply reducing exercise levels to using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as surgery to remove diseased tissue, stabilize joints, or reduce pain.
While osteoarthritis is commonly associated with older dogs, it can also affect the joints of your senior cat.
Cat osteoarthritis symptoms are more subtle than those of dogs. While a cat's range of motion may be reduced, the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis are 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. Cat owners rarely report lameness, which is more common in dogs.
Cancer is thought to kill approximately half of all pets in the United States. As a result, it is critical for your senior pet to have routine wellness exams as they age.
Bringing your pet in for routine checkups, even if they appear healthy, allows your veterinarian to look for early signs of cancer and other diseases that respond better to treatment when caught early.
- Heart Disease
Heart disease can be a problem for geriatric pets, just like it is for humans.
Senior dogs frequently suffer from congestive heart failure, which occurs when the heart does not efficiently pump blood, causing fluid to build up in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
While heart disease affects cats less than dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is fairly common. The walls of a cat's heart thicken as a result of this condition, reducing the heart's ability to function efficiently.
- Blindness and hearing loss
Degeneration of the eyes and ears in older pets can result in varying degrees of deafness and blindness, though this is more common in dogs than in cats.
When these conditions are caused by aging, they may appear gradually, allowing geriatric pets to adjust their behavior and making it difficult for pet owners to detect.
- Liver disease
Liver disease is common in senior cats and can be caused by high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism. Loss of appetite, jaundice, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and increased thirst are all symptoms of liver disease in cats.
Seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, and weight loss are all possible symptoms of liver disease in dogs.
If your pet exhibits any of the symptoms of liver disease, immediate veterinary attention is required.
Although dogs and cats can develop diabetes at any age, the majority of dogs are diagnosed between the ages of 7 and 10, and the majority of cats are over 6.
Excessive thirst, increased appetite accompanied by weight loss, cloudy eyes, and chronic or recurring infections are all symptoms of diabetes in dogs and cats.
Obesity increases the risk of diabetes in both cats and dogs.
- Kidney disease
The function of a pet's kidneys tends to deteriorate as they age. In some cases, medications used to treat other common conditions in geriatric pets can cause kidney disease.
Chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, but it can be managed through a combination of diet and medications.
- Urinary tract disease
Our Beacon 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. It's important to note that incontinence could be a sign of a bigger health issue such as a urinary tract infection, or even dementia.
If your senior pet experiences incontinence issues, it's important to take them to the vet for a thorough examination.
Veterinary Care for Senior Pets
Our veterinarians will thoroughly examine your senior pet, ask detailed questions about their home life, and perform any tests that may be necessary to gain additional insight into their general physical health and condition.
Based on the results, we will recommend a treatment plan that may include medications, activities, and dietary changes to help improve your senior pet's health, well-being, and comfort.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is critical to ensuring that your senior pet lives a long, happy, and fulfilled life. It also allows our veterinarians to detect diseases earlier.
Early detection helps preserve your pet's physical health and find emerging health issues before they become long-term issues.
Regular physical examinations will give your pet the best chance of long-term health.