Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
In order to help maintain a good quality of life for your dog or cat as they age, senior pets require routine preventive care and early diagnosis all 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 vets are able to help Rock Springs geriatric pets achieve optimal health by identifying and treating emerging health issues early and providing proactive treatments while we are still able to effectively manage their conditions.
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 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 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 joint issues early is critical to keeping your dog comfortable as they age. The treatments for bone and joint health issues in senior dogs can range from reduces levels of exercise to the use of analgesics or surgery to remove disease tissue or stabilize joints.
While osteoarthritis is typically a condition we think of in older dogs, this painful condition can also affect your senior cat's joints.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats is much more subtle than those found in dogs. While cats are capable of experiencing a decrease in mobility caused by their condition, 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
Just like in people, heart disease can be a serious issue for geriatric pets.
Senior dogs will commonly suffer from congestive heart failure. This occurs when their heart isn't able to efficiently pump blood, causing fluid to beck up in their lungs, heart and in their chest.
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 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 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 Rock Springs vets often see geriatric cats and dogs with urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues.
Aging pets may be prone to accidents as the muscles controlling their bladder weaken. However, it's important to notes that incontinence may be a sign of bigger health issues like dementia or urinary tract infections.
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 conduct a thorough examination of your senior pet, will ask about their home life in detail and will perform any tests that may be required in order to receive additional insight into their general physical health and well-being.
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 critical to helping your senior pet live in a happy, healthy and fulfilled life. It also gives our veterinarians the chance to detect diseases early when they are at their most treatable.
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 routinely administered physical examinations, your pet will have their best chance at long-term and quality health.