Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
As they enter their golden years, senior pets will need routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis to help them maintain a good quality of life.
Dedicated care can help extend your older pet's life and good health, so we must see them for regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in Jesup achieve and maintain their ideal health by identifying and treating developing health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while any problems can still be effectively and easily managed.
Typical Health Problems
Companion cats and dogs are living far longer today than they have in the past. Better veterinary care and improved dietary options play an integral role in this extended life expectancy.
While we can certainly celebrate this, pet owners and veterinarians are now also facing more age-related conditions than they did in the past.
Senior pets are usually prone to these conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
Dogs can suffer from numerous joint or bone disorders as they reach their golden years. These conditions can lead to pain and discomfort. Some joint and bone disorders commonly diagnosed in geriatric pets include hip dysplasia, arthritis, reduction in spinal flexibility, growth plate disorders, and osteochondrosis.
To keep your dog comfortable as they continue to age, it's essential to address these issues early. Treatment for joint and bone issues in senior dogs ranges from simply reducing levels of exercise to using anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics, to surgery to stabilize joints, reduce pain or remove diseased tissue.
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 your senior pet needs 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, 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 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 several 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 Jesup 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
Your senior pet will be thoroughly examined by our vets, who will ask about their home life in detail and conduct any tests that may be needed to gain valuable insight into his or her general physical health and condition.
Based on our findings, we'll recommend a treatment plan that may include medications, dietary changes, and activities to help improve your senior pet's health, comfort, and well-being.
Routine Wellness Exams
To help your senior pet live a long, healthy, and happy life, preventive care is critical. This also allows our veterinarians the opportunity to detect diseases early.
Early detection of disease can help preserve your pet's general health and identify developing health issues before they become long-term problems.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.
As pet parents, one of the most difficult choices we'll have to make is when to let our beloved four-legged friends go. At Wolfe Animal Hospital, we offer compassionate euthanasia services, along with a large, quiet and comfortable bereavement room with ease of exit, to make this challenging time a bit easier.
Before having your pet euthanized at our medical center, we will ask you to fill out our Euthanasia Consent Form.