Geriatric Pet Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
To help your senior pet maintain a good quality of life as they age, they require routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis during their golden years.
Proactive care could help extend your pet's life and good health as they get older, so it's essential for them to attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they appear to be healthy.
Our Toledo vets are available to help geriatric pets achieve optimal health by diagnosing and treating arising health problems early, and providing proactive treatment while we can still effectively and easily manage them.
Typical Health Problems
As a result of the improved dietary options and better veterinary care, companion cats and dogs are living much longer today than they have before.
While this is definitely news to celebrate, pet owners and veterinarians are now encountering more age-related problems than they did in the past as well.
Generally, senior pets are at a higher risk for these conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
When dogs enter their golden years, there are various 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.
It's important to have these problems addressed early, in order to help keep your dog comfortable as they get older. 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 most of the time osteoarthritis is a condition associated with older dogs, your senior cat can also be impacted by this painful 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 depression, weight loss, poor grooming habits, loss of appetite, change in general attitude, urination (or defecation) outside the litter pan, and inability to jump on and off objects. Lameness often reported by dog owners isn't usually seen in cats.
It is believed that about 50% of all pets in the US die from cancers. This makes it essential for your elderly pet to see their vet for routine wellness exams as they get older.
Taking your geriatric cat or dog in for routine checkups even when they appear to be healthy provides your veterinarian with the chance to examine them for early signs of cancer and other diseases that respond best to treatment when diagnosed in their earliest stages.
- Heart Disease
Similar to humans, heart disease can be problematic for senior cats and dogs.
Senior dogs often suffer from congestive heart failure, which develops when the heart isn't pumping blood efficiently, causing fluid to back up in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
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 can arise slowly, providing geriatric pets with the opportunity to adjust their behavior, making it difficult for pet owners to notice.
- Liver disease
Liver disease is common in senior cats and could be the result of high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of liver disease in cats include increased thirst, loss of appetite, jaundice, drooling, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Dogs with liver disease can experience can a range 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.
While pets 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.
Symptoms of diabetes in dogs and cats include excessive thirst, increased appetite accompanied by weight loss, cloudy eyes, and chronic or recurring infections.
Your cat or dog could be at a higher risk for diabetes if they are obese.
- Kidney disease
As cats and dogs get older, their kidneys tend to lose their function. Sometimes, kidney disease can be the result of medications used to treat other common conditions seen in geriatric pets.
While chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, it is manageable with a combination of medications and diet.
- Urinary tract disease
Our Toledo 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 animal has incontinence problems it's essential to bring your geriatric dog or cat to the vet for a comprehensive examination.
Veterinary Care for Seniors
Our vets will conduct a comprehensive examination of your pet, ask for details about their home life and conduct any tests that might be needed to get additional insights about their general physical health and condition.
Depending on what we find, we'll recommend a treatment plan that could potentially consist of activities, dietary changes, and medications, that could help improve your senior pet's health, well-being, and comfort.
Routine Wellness Exams
It's important to provide your senior pet with preventive care to help them live a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life. It also provides our veterinarians with the chance to spot arising 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.
With regular physical examinations, your cat or dog will have their best chance at optimal long-term health.