Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
To help your pet maintain a good quality of life as they age, senior dogs and cats require 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 they must attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in the Clovis area to achieve their optimal health by proactively identifying and treating health issues as they emerge and when they are the easiest to manage.
Typical Health Problems
Because of improved dietary options and better veterinary care, our companion dogs and cats are living for far longer than they have in the past.
This is certainly something worth celebrating, however, it also means that pet owners and veterinarians now also face far more age-related conditions than they did in the past too.
Senior pets are typically prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog reaches their golden years, several joint or bone disorders 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 early is essential for keeping your dog comfortable as they continue to age. Treatment for joint and bone issues in senior dogs ranges from simply reducing levels of exercise, to the use of analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, to surgery to remove diseased tissue, stabilize joints or reduce pain.
While osteoarthritis is typically a condition we think of in older dogs, this painful condition can also affect your senior cat's joints.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis in our feline friends are much more subtle than they are in dogs. While cats may experience a reduction in their range of motion, the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats include a loss of appetite, depression, a change in general attitudes, urination or defecation outside of the litter box, and the inability to jump onto and off of objects. The lameness that is often seen in dogs isn't commonly reported by cats owners of cats with osteoarthritis.
It is believed that approximately 50% of all pets in the US die from cancers. That's why your senior pet needs 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 will commonly suffer from congestive heart failure, which occurs when their heart isn't efficiently pumping blood, causing a backup of blood and other fluids in their chest cavity, heart, and lungs.
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
Liver disease is very common in senior cats and may be the result of high blood pressure or a condition like hyperthyroidism. The symptoms of liver disease in cats include the loss of their appetite, jaundice, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and an increased sense of thirst.
Liver disease in dogs can cause several 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 our pets age, their kidneys may lose their function. In some instances, kidney disease in pets may be caused by medications used to treat other common conditions found 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 Clovis 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 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 our findings, we will recommend a treatment plan for your pet that may include activities, medications, and dietary changes that can help to improve your senior pet's health, well-being, and comfort.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive veterinary care is critical to helping your senior pet to live a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life. It also allows our vets to take the chance to detect diseases as early as possible.
Early detection of disease will help preserve your pet's physical health and catch emerging health issues before they develop into long-term problems.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.