Geriatric Care for Pets
Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
In order to help your dog or cat maintain a good quality of life as they grow and age, our senior pets require regularly scheduled routine care in order to remain healthy and comfortable during 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 vets are here to help geriatric dogs and cats in the rPittsboro area achieve and maintain their optimal health by diagnosing and treating health issues as or before they have a chance to emerge. Proactive treatment is the name of the game.
Typical Health Problems
Due to improved dietary options and better veterinary care, companion cats and dogs are living far longer today than they have in the past.
While this is something worth celebrating, pet owners and vets now 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, 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 pup comfortable as they age. The treatment for bone or joint issues in senior dogs can range from a simple reduction in activity to the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, to surgeries designed to remove diseased tissues and restore mobility.
While osteoarthritis may be a condition we commonly associate with senior dogs, cats can also be affected by this painful joint 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.
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 much less common in cats than it is in dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is diagnosed relatively often. This is a condition that causes the walls of your cat's heart to thicken, decreasing the ability of their heart to efficiently function.
- 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 a relatively common health issue affecting senior cats and may occur as a result of high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism. The symptoms of liver disease in cats may include a loss of appetite, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, an increase in thirst and jaundice.
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
Our Pittsboro 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 provide a thorough examination of your senior pet, including asking about their home life in detail and performing tests that may be required in order to receive general insight into their health or 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.
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 well-being as well as catch 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.