Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
To help them maintain a good quality of life as they continue to age, senior pets 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 routine exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help your geriatric pet in Moreno Valley to achieve their best health, by diagnosing and treating emerging health issues early, providing proactive treatment while your pet's health conditions are still easily manageable.
Typical Health Problems
Because of improvements in veterinary care and dietary options, our pets are now living far longer than they ever have in the past.
This is worth celebrating! However, veterinarians and pet owners now face far more age-related conditions that they did in the past 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 as early as possible is critical to keeping your dog comfortable as they continue to age. Treating bone and joint issues in senior dogs ranges from simply reducing their levels of exercise to the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics or surgery in order to reduce their pain, remove diseased tissues and stabilize their joints.
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.
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 affect senior pets.
Senior dogs will commonly suffer from congestive heart failure. This occurs when their heart isn't able to properly pump blood. This causes fluid to build up in their lungs, heart abdomen and chest cavity.
While heart disease is much less common in cats, HCM (Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy) can be quite common. This condition causes the walls of your cat's heart to thicken, decreasing the ability of their heart to properly function.
- 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 your pet ages, their kidneys will tend to lose some of their function. In some instances, kidney disease may be caused by medications which are used to treat other common conditions which are found 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 Moreno Valley 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 veterinarians will thoroughly examine your senior pet, asking about the details of their home life and performing any tests they may require in order to receive additional insight into their general condition.
Based on our findings, we will recommend a treatment plan for you which may include activities, medications and dietary changes for your pet which may help to improve their health, well-being and comfort.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventative care is absolutely key for helping your aging pet to live a fulfilled, healthy and happy life. It also allows our vets the chance to detect diseases as early as possible.
Early detection of diseases will help to preserve your pet's health and well-being. It will also allow us to catch issues as they emerge and develop into more significant health problems.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.