Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
For pets to maintain a high quality of life in their golden years, they require routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis.
Proactive care can help lengthen your cat or dog's good health and life as they age, so they must visit their vet regularly for routine wellness exams, even if they appear to be healthy.
Our veterinarians are available to help geriatric pets in Milledgeville stay in optimal health by finding and treating arising health problems early, and providing early treatments while we can still effectively and easily manage their condition.
Typical Health Problems
As a result of the improved dietary options and high-quality veterinary care, companion cats and dogs are living much longer today than they ever have before.
While this is news to celebrate, pet owners and veterinarians are now encountering more age-related problems than they have in the past as well.
Senior pets are generally prone to these conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your pup enters their golden years, there are numerous joint or bone disorders that can cause them pain and discomfort. A few of the most common joint and bone disorders that our vets see in geriatric pets include arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, reduction in spinal flexibility, and growth plate disorders.
Having these issues attended to early is important for keeping your pooch comfortable as they age. The treatments available for joint and bone conditions in senior dogs can range from just reducing their levels of exercise, to using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, to surgery to remove diseased tissue, stabilize joints or reduce pain.
While many people generally associate osteoarthritis as seen in older dogs, this painful condition can also impact the joints of your senior cat.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats are more subtle than those in dogs. While cats can suffer from a decrease in their range of motion the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats include depression, loss of appetite, weight loss, change in general attitude, poor grooming habits, urination, or defecation outside the litter pan, and inability to jump on and off objects. Lameness often seen in dogs isn't reported by cat owners often.
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
Similar to people, heart disease can be problematic for geriatric cats and dogs.
Senior dogs often develop congestive heart failure, which occurs when the heart doesn't pump blood efficiently, making fluids back up in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
While heart disease isn't found as often in cats, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is fairly common. This condition makes the walls of a cat’s heart thicken, decreasing the heart’s ability to function efficiently.
- Blindness and hearing loss
Degeneration in the eyes and ears could cause varying degrees of deafness and blindness in older pets, however, this condition is more often in dogs than in cats.
When these problems are age-related they can develop slowly, providing geriatric pets with time to adjust their behavior, making it challenging for pet owners to notice.
- Liver disease
In senior cats, liver disease is common and can develop as 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 can cause a range of serious symptoms in dogs including seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, and weight loss.
If your senior cat or dog is showing any symptoms of liver disease, they need to get veterinary care quickly.
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 cats and dogs get older, their kidneys begin to lose their function. Sometimes, kidney disease can be caused by medications used to treat other conditions found in geriatric pets.
While chronic kidney disease can't be cured, it can be managed with a combination of diet and medications.
- Urinary tract disease
Our Milledgeville 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 implement a comprehensive examination of your senior cat or dog, ask detailed questions about their home life, and conduct any tests that might be needed to get additional insights into your pet's general physical health and condition.
Depending on what we find, your vet will recommend a treatment plan that could consist of medications, activities, and dietary changes that might help improve the health, well-being, and comfort of your senior pet.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care plays an important part in helping your senior cat or dog live a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life. It also provides our vets the chance to detect any diseases early.
Early detection of disease can help preserve your animal companion's physical health and spot emerging health issues before they turn into long-term problems.
With regular physical examinations, your cat or dog will get their best chance at quality long-term health.