Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
In order to help dogs and cats maintain an excellent quality of life as they age, senior pets need routinely scheduled wellness care and early diagnoses all throughout their golden years.
Diligent care is able to help extend your pet's life and health as they grow older. Because of this, it's critical that you bring them in to see your vet for routinely scheduled wellness exams, even if they seem perfectly healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in Oak Grove achieve optimal health by identifying and treating emerging health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while we can still effectively and easily manage them.
Typical Health Problems
Because of improvements to the dietary options available to our senior pets, companion dogs and cats are now living far longer than they ever 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 grows into their golden years, there will be a number of bone and joint disorders that they may become increasingly at-risk of. Some of the most common joint and bone issues in geriatric dogs can 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 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 decrease in range of motion 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.
Because of this, bringing your geriatric pet in to see us for routine checkups, even when they seem perfectly healthy, is critical to giving our vets the chance to check your companion for the earliest signs of cancer and other diseases that respond best to proactive treatment.
- 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 your pet's eyes and ears may lead to varying levels of blindness and or deafness. These conditions are more common in cats than they are in dogs.
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.
In our canine companions, liver disease can lie at the root of several very serious symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, the buildup of abdominal fluid, fever rapid weight loss and more.
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 Oak Grove 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, it's important that you bring your senior cat or dog to see a vet for a thorough examination.
Veterinary Care for Seniors
Our veterinarians will thoroughly examine your senior pet, ask you questions about their home life, and perform any further diagnostic tests that may be required to gain addition insight into their 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.
The early detection of health issues and diseases will help to preserve your pet's physical health and catch any problem early, before they have a chance to develop into more serious and long-standing conditions.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.