Geriatric Care for Cats & Dogs
To help senior pets maintain a high-quality life as they get older, they need to be provided with routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis during their geriatric years.
Proactive care can help lengthen your cat or dog's good health and life as they age, so it's critical for them to attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they appear healthy.
Our veterinarians are available to help the geriatric pets in Orange achieve optimal health by finding and treating any arising health problems early, and providing them with the treatment they need while we are still able to effectively and easily manage the condition.
Typical Health Problems
Because of the improved dietary options and high quality of veterinary care available, companion cats and dogs are living longer today than they ever have before.
While this is news to celebrate, pet parents and veterinarians, are now encountering more age-related conditions than they did in the past as well.
Generally, senior cats and dogs are prone to the conditions below:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your pup enters their golden years, there is a variety of joint or bone disorders that could cause them discomfort and pain. A few of the joint and bone disorders our vets most often see in geriatric dogs are arthritis, hip dysplasia, growth plate disorders, reduction in spinal flexibility, and osteochondrosis.
It's essential to have these issues attended to early so your dog can stay comfortable as they continue to age. The treatments for joint and bone conditions in senior dogs can range from simply reducing their level of exercise to the use of analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, and surgery to remove diseased tissue, stabilize joints or reduce pain.
While osteoarthritis is usually a condition associated with older dogs, this painful issue could also impact the joints of your senior cat.
The 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 depression, loss of appetite, weight loss, change in general attitude, poor grooming habits, urination/defecation outside the litter box, and an inability to jump on and off objects. The lameness dogs display usually isn't often reported by cat owners.
It is believed that about 50% of all cats and dogs in the US pass away from cancers. This makes it important for your senior pet to visit the vet for routine wellness exams as they get older.
Taking your geriatric cat or dog to the vet for routine checkups even when they appear to be healthy lets your veterinarian examine them for early signs of cancer and other diseases that respond best to treatment when detect in their earliest stages.
- Heart Disease
Similar to people, geriatric pets can develop heart diseases.
Senior dogs often suffer from congestive heart failure, which develops when the heart isn't pumping blood efficiently, causing fluid to back up in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
While heart disease isn't seen 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 properly.
- Blindness and hearing loss
Degeneration in the eyes and ears could cause varying degrees of deafness and blindness in senior cats and dogs, however, this is more common in dogs than in cats.
When these conditions are age-related they could arise slowly, providing geriatric pets with time to adjust their behavior, making it difficult for pet owners to notice.
- Liver disease
Liver disease is common in senior cats and could be the result of high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of liver disease in cats include drooling, jaundice, loss of appetite, increased thirst, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Liver disease in dogs can lead to a handful of serious symptoms including seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, and weight loss.
If your geriatric pet is showing any of the above symptoms of liver disease, it's very important that they receive veterinary care quickly.
Even though dogs and cats can develop diabetes at any point in their lives, most dogs are diagnosed between 7-10 years of age and most cats that are 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 increases the risk of diabetes for both cats and dogs.
- Kidney disease
As pets get older, their kidneys tend to start losing their function. Sometimes, kidney disease can be caused by medications used to treat other common conditions seen 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 veterinarians in Orange often see geriatric pets with urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues. Elderly pets could be prone to accidents as the muscles controlling their bladder weakens, but it's important to know that incontinence could 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 them to the vet for a thorough examination.
Veterinary Care for Seniors
Our vets will provide your senior cat or dog with a comprehensive examination, ask for details about their home life and conduct any tests that might be needed to obtain additional insights into your pet's general conditions and physical health.
Depending on what your vet finds, they may recommend a treatment plan that could possibly consist of medications, activities, and dietary changes that can help improve the health of your senior pet as well as their well-being and comfort.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care plays an important part in helping your senior pet live a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life. It also provides our veterinarians with the opportunity to spot any diseases early.
Detecting diseases early can help preserve your cat or dog's physical health and catch arising health issues before they turn into long-term problems.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will be given their best chance for quality long-term health.