Geriatric Vet Care For Senior Pets
Senior pets need routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis to help them maintain a good quality of life as they continue to age.
Attentive care can help maintain your friend's health and potentially extend their longevity, so it's important that they attend regularly scheduled wellness exams even if they seem healthy.
While throughout your pet's younger years, you may have gotten used to bringing your pet in for a routine exam every year or so, as your companion ages, their immune system will gradually weaken.
This means that more frequently routine checkups will be necessary in most cases, since it's critical to catch underlying health issues in senior animals as soon as possible.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in Turlock achieve optimal health by identifying and treating emerging health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while the issue is more manageable.
Typical Health Problems
Thanks 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 exciting news for pets and their humans, 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 gets older, there are several joint or bone disorders that can result in pain and discomfort. Some common joint and bone disorders in geriatric pets include arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, limited spinal flexibility, and growth plate disorders.
By addressing these issues early, it is easier to keep your dog comfortable as they continue to age. Treatment for joint and bone issues in senior dogs ranges from reducing levels of exercise to the use of analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, to surgery to remove diseased tissue, stabilize joints or reduce pain.
Although osteoarthritis is normally a condition we think of as affecting older dogs, this painful condition can also affect your senior cat's joints.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats are more subtle than those in dogs. Cats can experience a decrease in range of motion, but the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats include weight loss, loss of appetite, depression, change in demeanor, inadequate grooming, 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, which is why your aging pet needs to be seen for routine wellness exams as they age.
Routine checkups for geriatric pets, even when they seem healthy, allow 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 older pets.
Senior dogs often suffer from congestive heart failure, which occurs when the heart pumps blood inefficiently, causing fluid to back up in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
Although heart disease is seen less in cats than in dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is relatively common. This condition causes the walls of the animal's heart to thicken, which decreases the organ's ability to function efficiently.
- Blindness and hearing loss
Visual and hearing degeneration in older pets is a frequent issue in older pets, although this is more common in dogs than in cats.
When related to natural aging, symptoms 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 common in senior cats 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 an increase in thirst.
In dogs, liver disease can cause several serious symptoms including seizures, GI distress, fever, jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, and weight loss.
If your geriatric dog or cat is displaying any of the symptoms of liver disease, immediate veterinary care is essential.
Dogs and cats can develop diabetes at any age, but most dogs are diagnosed at approximately 7-10 years of age, and most cats when they are over 6 years of age.
Symptoms of diabetes in pets 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 get older, it is not unusual for their kidneys to 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.
Although chronic kidney disease has no cure, it can be managed with a combination of diet and medications.
- Urinary tract disease
Geriatric cats and dogs often begin experiencing urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues. Elderly pets can be prone to accidents as the muscles controlling the bladder weaken, but incontinence could also be a signal of a larger underlying health issue such as a urinary tract infection or 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 vets will carry out a thorough examination on 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 the findings, we'll recommend a treatment plan that can include medications, activities, and dietary changes with the goal of improving your senior pet's health, well-being, and comfort.
Routine Wellness Exams For Senior Pets
Preventive care is critical to supporting your senior pet's healthy, happy, and fulfilled life. It also allows our veterinarians to detect diseases early.
Early detection of disease will help preserve your pet's physical health and catch emerging health issues before they develop into long-term problems.
Along with love, adequate at-home care, and regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.