Geriatric Care for Pets
For senior pets to maintain a high-quality life as they get older, they require routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis in their senior years.
Being proactive about your senior pet's care can help extend their good health and life as they get older, so it's critical for your cat or dog to attend routinely scheduled wellness exams, even when they seem to be healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric cats and dogs in Sonora achieve their best possible health by finding and treating arising health issues early and providing treatment while we can still effectively and easily manage the conditions.
Typical Health Problems
Because of the better veterinary care available and new improvements made in dietary options, companion dogs and cats are living longer now than ever before.
While this is definitely news to celebrate, pet parents and veterinarians, are now facing more conditions that are related to age than they did in the past as well.
Senior pets are generally at a higher risk of the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog enters their golden years, there is a variety of bone or joint disorders that could cause them pain and discomfort. A few of the most common joint and bone disorders in geriatric dogs that our veterinarians see include arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, reduction in spinal flexibility, and growth plate disorders.
Attending to these issues early is critical for keeping your pup comfortable as they get older. The treatments our vets use for joint and bone conditions in senior dogs will depend on their condition and can include reducing levels of exercise, using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, surgery to remove diseased tissue, stabilizing joints, or reducing pain.
While people typically associate osteoarthritis with older dogs, this painful condition could also impact your senior cat's joints.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats are more subtle than those in dogs. While cats can suffer from a decrease in their range of motion the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in senior 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 that is often seen in dogs is not usually reported by cat owners.
It's important for your geriatric pet to see their vet for routine wellness exams as get older because cancer is a common condition among cats and dogs.
Taking your senior pet for routine checkups even when they appear healthy gives your veterinarian the opportunity to examine them for early signs of cancer and other diseases which typically respond better to treatment when detected in their earliest stages.
- Heart Disease
Like people, heart disease can be a problem for geriatric dogs and cats.
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 found less in cats than in dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is fairly 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 ears and eyes can cause varying degrees of blindness and deafness in senior pets, however, this is found more often in dogs than in cats.
When these conditions are related to age they can develop slowly, giving pets time to adjust their behavior, making it difficult for pet owners to notice.
- Liver disease
Liver disease is common in senior cats and can be the result of high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism. The symptoms of liver disease in cats include loss of appetite, jaundice, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst.
Liver disease in dogs can lead to a range of serious symptoms such as seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, and weight loss.
If your geriatric companion is displaying any of the symptoms of liver disease, you have to get them veterinary care.
Even though cats and dogs can develop diabetes at any point in their lives, most dogs are diagnosed at about 7-10 years of age and most cats diagnosed with diabetes are over 6 years old.
The symptoms of diabetes in dogs and cats include cloudy eyes, excessive thirst, increased appetite accompanied by weight loss, and recurring or chronic infections.
Obesity increases the risk of diabetes for both cats and dogs.
- Kidney disease
As pets age, their kidneys often lose their function. Sometimes, kidney disease can be a result of medications that are used to treat other common conditions seen in older pets.
While chronic kidney disease can't be cured, it can be managed with a combination of diet and medications.
- Urinary tract disease
Our vets in Sonora often see senior pets with incontinence issues and urinary tract conditions. Geriatric cats and dogs can be at a higher risk of having accidents because the muscles controlling their bladder weaken. It's important to note that incontinence could be a sign of bigger health conditions, including 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 cat or dog, ask for details about their home life and perform any tests that might be needed to get further insight into your pet's general condition and physical health.
Depending on what your vet finds, we'll develop a treatment plan that could include activities, medications, and dietary changes that might help improve your senior pet's well-being, comfort, and health.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is an important part of helping your senior companion live a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life. It also provides our vets with the opportunity to find any diseases or conditions early.
Finding diseases early will help your pet maintain their physical health and catch emerging health problems before they turn into long-term issues.
By bringing your pet in for regular physical examinations, you are giving them their best chance for quality long-term health.