Geriatric Care for Pets
As they continue to age and enter their golden years, senior pets need routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis to help them maintain a good quality of life.
Attentive, diligent care can help extend your pet's life and good health, so it's imperative that they attend regularly scheduled routine exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in Tumwater achieve their ideal health by identifying and treating developing health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while conditions can still be effectively and easily managed.
Typical Health Problems
Due to better veterinary care and improved dietary options, companion dogs and cats are living much longer today than they have in the past.
While this is certainly something to be celebrated, veterinarians and pet owners are also facing more age-related conditions than they did in the past.
Senior pets are typically prone to these conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
Dogs can experience numerous bone or joint disorders that can lead to pain or discomfort in their golden years. Some of the most common joint and bone disorders that our veterinarians diagnose in geriatric pets include hip dysplasia, growth plate disorders, arthritis, reduction in spinal flexibility and osteochondrosis.
Addressing these issues early is vital to ensuring your dog stays comfortable as they continue to age. Treatment for bone and joint issues in senior dogs ranges from simply reducing exercise levels to using anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics. Surgery to stabilize joints, reduce pain or remove diseased tissue may also be an option.
While older dogs may be more known for experiencing osteoarthritis, this painful condition can also impact your senior cat's joints.
In cats, symptoms of osteoarthritis are more subtle than those in dogs. While cats may experience a decrease in range of motion the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats include depression, poor grooming habits, loss of appetite, weight loss, change in general attitude, urination or defecation outside the litter pan, an inability to jump on and off objects. Though dogs typically experience lameness, this symptom is not typically seen in cats.
It's believed that in the United States, about 50% of all pets die from cancers. This is why it's critical for your senior pet to come to the vet for a routine exam as they age.
Book routine checkups for your geriatric pet even when they seem healthy — this gives your veterinarian the opportunity to examine them for early signs of cancer and other diseases that respond better to treatment when detected 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 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 Tumwater 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 the veterinarian. The vet will perform any tests that may be required and ask about their home life in detail to gain additional insight into his or her overall physical health and condition.
Based on our findings, we will recommend a treatment plan, which may include activities, dietary changes and medications that may help improve your senior pet's health, comfort and well-being.
To help your senior pet live a healthy, happy and fulfilled life, it's essential to ensure they receive regular preventive care. Bringing them in for routine exams gives your veterinarians a chance to detect diseases early.
Early detection of disease will help preserve your pet's physical health and catch emerging health problems before they develop into long-term issues.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality health in the long term.