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 wellness exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinary team is here to assist geriatric pets from across Greater Napanee to achieve good health by identifying and treating health issues as or before they emerge, when they are the most responsive to treatment and management.
Typical Health Problems
Due to improved dietary options and better veterinary care, companion cats and dogs are living far longer today than they have in the past.
While this is something worth celebrating, pet owners and veterinarians now also face far more age-related conditions than they have in the past. 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 issues early is critical for helping your dog remain comfortable as they age. Treatment for bone and joint issues in geriatric dogs can range from a simple reduction of their levels of exercise to the use of anti-inflammatory drugs or even surgery to remove diseased or damaged tissues.
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's often believed that as many as half of all pets in North America die from some kind of cancer. Because of this, it's important for your senior pet to visit your vet for a routine checkup as they grow old.
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 less common in cats than it is in dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is relatively common. This condition causes the walls of a cat's heart to thicken, decreasing their heart's ability 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 behaviour 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 dogs, liver disease can cause a number of quite serious effects on their health including vomiting, seizures, fever, jaundice, weight loss and the buildup of fluid in their abdomen.
If your geriatric dog or cat is displaying any of the symptoms of liver disease, veterinary care is essential.
While dogs and cats are capable of developing diabetes at any age, most dogs are diagnosed with this condition between the ages of seven and 10 years old and most cats who are diagnosed are over six years old.
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 Napanee veterinary team will often see geriatric dogs or cats suffering from urinary tract conditions and issues with incontinence. As pets grow older, they may become more prone to accidents as the muscles that control their bladder weaken. However, it is important to note that incontinence may be signs of larger health issues such as dementia or urinary tract infections.
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 their home life, habits and nutritional needs in detail before performing tests that may be required to gain additional insight into their general 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 critical to helping your senior pet to live a healthy and comfortable life throughout their golden years. It also allows our vets the chance to detect diseases as early as possible.
Early detection of disease will help preserve your pet's physical health and catch emerging health issues before they develop into long-term problems.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.