Geriatric Care for Pets
Geriatric Care for Senior Pets
To help them maintain a good quality of life as they continue to age, senior cats and dogs need routine preventive veterinary care 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 veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in Brookhaven achieve optimal health by identifying and treating arising health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while we can still effectively and easily manage them.
Typical Health Problems
Thanks to improved dietary options and better veterinary care, pet cats and dogs are living far longer today than they have in the past.
While this is certainly something to be celebrated, pet owners and veterinarians now face more age-related conditions than they did in the past as well.
Senior pets are typically predisposed 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 fundamental to keeping your dog comfortable as they age. Treatment for joint and bone issues in senior dogs can range 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 typically a condition we think of in 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. While cats can experience a reduction in range of motion, the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in senior cats include weight loss, loss of appetite, depression, change in overall attitude, poor grooming habits, urination or defecation outside the litter pan, and difficulty jumping on and off objects. Lameness typically seen in dogs is not commonly reported by cat owners.
It is believed that about 50% of all pets in the US die from cancers. 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, geriatric pets can suffer from heart disease and conditions.
Senior dogs can often experience congestive heart failure, which happens when the heart isn't pumping blood efficiently. This causes 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 somewhat common. This condition causes the walls of a cat’s heart to thicken, lessening 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 related to aging they may advance slowly, allowing geriatric pets to adjust their behavior and making it difficult for pet owners to notice.
- Liver disease
In senior cats, liver disease is common 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 increased thirst.
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 senior 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, dogs are generally diagnosed at approximately 7-10 years of age and the majority of cats diagnosed with diabetes are over 6 years of age.
Signs of diabetes in dogs and cats include excessive thirst, increased appetite accompanied by weight loss, cloudy eyes, and chronic or recurring infections.
Both cats and dogs that are obese are at higher risk of developing diabetes.
- Kidney disease
As pets get older, 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 is not curable, it is manageable with a combination of diet and medications.
- Urinary tract disease
Our Brookhaven vets often see geriatric cats and dogs with urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues. Older pets can experience accidents more often as the muscles controlling the bladder weaken, but it's important to note that problems holding in urine 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 detailed examination.
Veterinary Care for Seniors
Our vets will thoroughly examine your senior pet, ask about their home life 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, your vet will offer advice on a treatment plan that could 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 critical 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 could have the best chance at health and longevity as they age.