Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
As they age, our senior pets require diligent routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis to help them maintain a good quality of life.
By bringing your geriatric cat or dog in for regularly scheduled wellness exams even if they seem healthy, our team can help keep them comfortable in their golden years.
Our veterinarians at All Creatures Great and Small Animal Hospital are here to help geriatric pets throughout Fairfield, NJ achieve ideal health by identifying and treating developing health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while any problems can still be easily and effectively managed.
Typical Health Problems
Thanks to better veterinary care and dietary options that have improved over the last few decades, our companion cats and dogs are living far longer today than they have in the past.
While we can certainly celebrate this development, pet owners and their veterinarians are now also encountering more age-related conditions than they did in the past.
Senior pets are typically prone to these conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
Dogs can suffer from numerous bone and joint disorders that can cause pain and discomfort as our pooches enter their golden years. Common joint and bone disorders that our veterinarians see in geriatric pets include osteochondrosis, growth plate disorders, reduction in spinal flexibility, arthritis, and hip dysplasia.
It's essential to have these issues addressed early so your dog can stay comfortable as they continue to age. Treatment for bone and joint disorders in senior dogs can range from simply reducing exercise levels to using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs. A vet may also recommend 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 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 Fairfield, NJ 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. We'll ask detailed questions about their home life and perform any tests that may be needed to gain additional insight into his or her general physical condition and health.
Based on our findings, we can recommend a treatment plan that may include activities, medications, and dietary changes designed to improve your senior pet's health, comfort, and well-being.
Routine Wellness Exams
Exceptional preventive care plays an important role in helping your senior pet live a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life. It also allows our veterinarians to detect diseases early.
Early detection of disease will help preserve your pet's physical health and catch developing health issues before they evolve into long-term problems.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.