Geriatric Care for Pets
Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
Preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis are key to helping your senior pet maintain a good quality of life as they continue to age.
Diligent care can help extend your pet's life and good health as they enter their golden years, so attending regularly scheduled routine exams is critical, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in Woodstock achieve ideal health by identifying and treating developing health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while they can still be effectively and easily managed.
Typical Health Problems
Better veterinary care and improved dietary options have lead to better health outcomes for our pets. 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 their veterinarians now also face 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 becomes a senior, he or she may be afflicted with a number of bone or joint disorders that can result in pain and discomfort. Some of the most common joint and bone disorders that our veterinarians see in geriatric pets include hip dysplasia, arthritis, osteochondrosis, growth plate disorders and reduction in spinal flexibility.
It's essential to address these issues early to keep your dog comfortable as they continue to age. For senior dogs, treatment for bone and joint issues ranges from simply reducing levels of exercise to using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs to surgery to stabilize joints, reduce pain or remove diseased tissue.
While we typically think of osteoarthritis as a condition seen in older dogs, this painful condition can also impact your senior cat's joints.
Cats are typically more subtle than dogs when it comes to displaying symptoms of osteoarthritis, but this painful condition can still affect your senior cat's joints.
While cats can experience a decrease in range motion, the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats include depression, poor grooming habits, change in general attitude, urination or defecation outside the litter, pain, weight loss and loss of appetite, along with an inability to jump on and off objects. While lameness is typically seen in dogs, this is not commonly reported by cat owners.
It's believed that about 50% of all pets in the US die from cancers. This is one of many reasons it's important that your senior pet visit the vet for routine exams as they enter their golden years.
Even when they seem healthy, bringing your geriatric pet in for routine checkups allows your veterinarian to check for early signs of cancer and other diseases that 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 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.
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 Woodstock 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 receive a thorough examination from your veterinarian. We'll ask about their home life in details and perform any tests that may be needed to gain additional insight into his or her general physical condition and health.
Depending on the findings, we'll recommend a treatment plan that can potentially include activities, medications and dietary changes that can help to improve your senior pet's health, comfort and well-being.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is key to helping your senior pet enjoy a healthy, happy and fulfilled life. It also allows our veterinarians the chance to detect diseases early.
Early detection of disease will help preserve your pet's physical health. We aim to 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.