Care for Senior Pets
Senior cats and dogs can maintain a good quality of life as they continue to age - with routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis to catch issues.
Diligent care in your pet's golden years can help extend your pet's life and good health, so it's important for them to attend regularly scheduled routine exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in Fort Oglethorpe achieve optimal health by identifying and treating developing health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while problems can still be easily and effectively managed.
Typical Health Problems
Our companion cats and dogs are living much longer today than they have in the past.
While we can certainly celebrate this, pet owners and veterinarians are now also facing more age-related conditions than they have in the past.
Senior pets are usually prone to these conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog enters their golden years, they may face a number of joint or bone disorders that can cause pain and discomfort. Some common joint and bone disorders often diagnosed in geriatric pets include hip dysplasia, reduction in spinal flexibility, growth plate disorders, osteochondrosis and arthritis.
Having these issues addressed early is key to helping your dog feel comfortable as they age. Treatment for bone and joint issues in senior dogs can range from simply reducing levels of exercise to using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, to surgery to reduce pain, stabilize joints 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 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 Fort Oglethorpe 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 vet, who will ask about their home life in detail. Any required tests may also be performed so we can 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 activities, dietary changes and medications to help improve your senior pet's health, comfort and well-being.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is essential to helping your senior pet live a healthy, happy and fulfilled life. It also gives our veterinarians the opportunity to detect diseases early.
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.