Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
To help your pet keep a good quality of life as they grow old, senior pets require routine preventative care, wellness checkups and early diagnosis throughout 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 veterinary team is here to help geriatric pets in Central Valley to achieve optimal health by identifying and treating your emerging health issues early and providing proactive treatment and diagnosis while still able to easily manage your pet's health issues.
Typical Health Problems
Because of improved dietary options and better veterinary care, our companion cats and dogs are living far longer today than they ever have before.
While this is something worth celebrating, pet owners and veterinarians now face more age-related conditions than they ever have before 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 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 a condition which is typically associated with senior dogs, this condition can also affect the joints of your senior cat.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats is more subtle than those in dogs. While cats experience a decrease in their range of motion, the most common symptoms associated with this condition in cats are weight loss, depression, a change in general demeanor, poor grooming habits defecation outside of the litter box and difficulty jumping on or off of objects. The lameness which is often reported in dogs is generally not seen in cats.
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 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
In older cats, liver disease is common and may be caused by high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of liver disease include jaundice, drooling, a lack of appetite, diarrhea and an increase in thirst.
In dogs, liver disease can cause a number of different and serious symptoms, from fevers, diarrhea and jaundice to vomiting and the buildup of abdominal fluid.
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 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 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.
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.
Hospice & Euthanasia Services
If there is anything more difficult than having to see your pet in pain, it is having to say goodbye. At River Oak Veterinary Hospital, we know that making the decision to euthanize your pet and prevent needless suffering is a difficult one, and our veterinary team is here to support you through the process.
We offer compassionate hospice care and will work closely with you throughout the decision to ensure that your pet's final weeks, days and moments are lived with dignity and comfort.