Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
Senior pets require routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis throughout their golden years to help them maintain a good quality of life as they age.
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 veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in Stockton achieve optimal health by identifying and treating emerging health issues early and providing proactive treatment while we can still effectively and easily manage them.
Typical Health Problems
Companion cats and dogs are living far longer today than they were in the past, thanks to better dietary options and veterinary care.
While this is certainly something to be celebrated, pet owners and veterinarians now face more age-related conditions than they did in the past as well.
Senior pets are typically prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
There are a number of joint or bone disorders that can cause pain and discomfort in your dog as they get older. Arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, reduced spinal flexibility, and growth plate disorders are among the most common joint and bone disorders seen by our veterinarians in geriatric pets.
Addressing these issues early is essential for keeping 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 analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, to surgery to remove diseased tissue, stabilize joints or reduce pain.
While osteoarthritis is typically a condition we think of in older dogs, this painful condition can also affect your senior cat's joints.
Osteoarthritis symptoms in cats are more subtle than in dogs. 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 are all common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats.
It is believed that approximately 50% of all pets in the U.S. 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 if they appear to be in good health, allows your veterinarian to look for early signs of cancer and other diseases that respond better to treatment when caught early.
- Heart Disease
Like people, heart disease can be a problem for geriatric pets.
Congestive heart failure is a condition in which the heart fails to pump blood efficiently, causing fluid to build 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
In older pets, degeneration of the eyes and ears can cause deafness and blindness in varying degrees, though 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. Loss of appetite, jaundice, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and increased thirst are all signs of liver disease in cats.
Liver disease in dogs can cause a number of serious symptoms including seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, and weight loss.
Veterinary care is required if your geriatric dog or cat exhibits any of the symptoms of liver disease.
Although dogs and cats can develop diabetes at any age, most dogs are diagnosed at approximately age 7 to 10, and the majority of cats diagnosed with diabetes are over the age of 6.
Excessive thirst, increased appetite with weight loss, cloudy eyes, and chronic or recurring infections are all signs of diabetes in dogs and cats.
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.
Chronic kidney disease is not curable, but it can be managed with a combination of diet and medication.
- Urinary tract disease
Our Stockton vets often see geriatric cats and dogs with urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues. Because the muscles that control the bladder weaken with age, elderly pets are more prone to accidents. However, incontinence can be a sign of a larger health problem, 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 Geriatric Care for Seniors
Our veterinarians will examine your senior pet thoroughly, ask detailed questions about their home life, and perform any tests that may be necessary to gain additional insight into their overall physical health and condition.
Based on the findings, we'll recommend a treatment plan that can 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 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 disease detection can help preserve your pet's physical health by catching emerging health issues before they become long-term issues.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.