Geriatric Care for Senior Pets
Routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis from a qualified veterinarian are vital to helping your senior pet maintain a good quality of life as they age.
Diligent care can help extend your pet's life and good health as they enter their golden years, so it's important that they see the vet for regularly scheduled routine wellness exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in Redding achieve ideal health by identifying and treating developing health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while we can still effectively and easily manage problems.
Typical Health Problems
Our companion cats and dogs are living much longer today than they have in the past, thanks to improved dietary options and better veterinary care.
While we can certainly celebrate this, pet owners and their veterinarians now also face more age-related conditions than they did in the past.
Senior pets are typically prone to these conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog enters their golden years, numerous joint or bone disorders can cause pain and discomfort. Some of the most common bone and joint disorders in geriatric pets that our veterinarians often see include hip dysplasia, arthritis, growth plate disorders, osteochondrosis and reduction in spinal flexibility.
It's essential to address these issues early in order to keep 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 anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics, to surgery to reduce pain, stabilize joints and remove diseased tissue.
Osteoarthritis is typically a condition we see in older dogs. However, this painful condition can also impact your senior cat's joints.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats are more subtle than those in dogs. While cats may experience a decrease in range of motion, the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats include depression, weight loss, poor grooming habits, loss of appetite, change in general attitude, inability to jump on and off objects and urination or defecation outside the litter pan. While we typically see lameness in dogs, this symptom 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
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 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 Redding 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 vets will perform a thorough examination for your senior pet, inquire about their home life in detail and conduct any tests that may be required to gain additional insight into his or her general physical condition and health.
Based on our findings, we'll recommend a treatment plan that may include dietary changes, medications and activities to help improve your senior pet's health, well-being and comfort.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is critical to helping your senior pet live a healthy, happy and fulfilled life. It also allows our veterinarians the chance to catch diseases early.
Early detection of disease will help preserve your pet's physical health and detect emerging health issues before they become long-term problems.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.
New Patients Welcome
Dana Park Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Redding companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.