Geriatric Care for Pets
Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
Senior cats and dogs need routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis throughout their golden years to help them maintain a good quality, healthy life as they continue to age.
Proactive care can help to lengthen your pet's good health and life as they get older, making it important for them to attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they appear healthy.
Our geriatric veterinarians in Novato are here to assist aging pets attain optimal health by finding and treating arising health issues early, and implementing proactive treatment while they are still easily manageable.
Typical Health Problems
Because of the better veterinary care and improved dietary options companion dogs and cats are living a-lot longer today than they ever did before.
This is definitely something to celebrate! However, veterinarians and pet owners are now currently facing more age-related conditions than they used to in the past.
Senior cats and dogs are usually prone to the health conditions listed below:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog enters their golden years, there is a variety of bone or joint disorders that could cause your pup pain and discomfort. Our veterinarians often see a handful of joint and bone disorders in geriatric pets, the most common ones include arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, reduction in spinal flexibility, and growth plate disorders.
It's important to address these conditions in their early stages to help keep your dog comfortable as they continue to age. Treatment options for joint and bone issues in senior dogs can include reducing their level of exercise, using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, surgery to remove diseased tissue, stabilizing the joints and pain reduction.
While osteoarthritis is generally a condition we associate with older dogs, this painful condition can also impact your senior cat's joints.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats are usually more subtle than those in dogs. While cats can experience a decrease in their range of motion the symptoms we most often see 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 commonly seen in dogs is not often reported by cat owners.
It is believed that approximately 50% of all pets in the US die from some form of cancer. Which is why it's extremely important for your senior cat or dog to see the vet for routine wellness exams as they age.
Bringing your senior pet in for regular checkups (even when they look healthy) gives your veterinarian the opportunity to examine them for early signs of cancer and other diseases that respond better to treatment in their earliest stages.
- Heart Disease
Heart disease can be a problem for geriatric pets (as it is with people).
Senior dogs often suffer from congestive heart failure, which happens when the heart isn't pumping blood efficiently, causing fluid to back up in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
Even though heart disease is seen less in cats than in dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is fairly common. This issue 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 of your pets can lead to varying degrees of deafness and blindness, happening more often in dogs than in cats.
When these issues are age-related they could come on slowly, giving senior pets time to adjust their behavior, making it hard or pet owners to notice.
- Liver disease
Liver disease is common and may be the result of high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism in senior cats. Symptoms of liver disease in felines can include loss of appetite, jaundice, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst.
Liver disease in dogs can create a variety of serious symptoms including seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, and weight loss.
If your geriatric pet is showing any liver disease symptoms, veterinary care is essential.
Even though cats and dogs can develop diabetes at any stage of their lives, 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.
The symptoms of diabetes in cats and dogs include excessive thirst, increased appetite accompanied by weight loss, cloudy eyes, and chronic or recurring infections.
Obesity is a diabetes risk factor in both cats and dogs.
- Kidney disease
As pets get older, their kidneys tend to lose their function. Sometimes, kidney disease can be caused by the medications used to treat other common conditions seen in geriatric cats and dogs.
While chronic kidney disease can't be cured, it can be managed with a combination of medications and diet.
- Urinary tract disease
Our vets in Novato often see geriatric cats and dogs with urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues. Elderly pets could be prone to accidents as their muscles controlling the bladder weaken, although it's important to note that incontinence could be a sign of bigger health issues including urinary tract infections or dementia.
If your senior pet is experiencing incontinence issues it's important to take them to the vet for a comprehensive examination.
Veterinary Care for Seniors
The vets at South Novato Animal Hospital will completely examine your senior cat or dog, ask about their home life in detail and perform any tests that might be required to receive more detailed insight into their general physical health and condition.
Depending on the findings, we will recommend a customized treatment plan which could include medications, activities and dietary changes that may help improve your senior pet's comfort, well-being and health.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is important in helping your senior pet live a happy, healthy and fulfilled life. It also provides your veterinarians with the opportunity to detect diseases early.
Finding diseases early will help preserve your pet's physical health and catch arising health issues before they turn into long-term problems.
With regular physical exams, your pet will get the best chance at quality long-term health.