Geriatric Care for Pets
Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
Routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis become increasingly important to help senior pets maintain a high quality of life during their golden years.
Proactive care can help extend your cat or dog's life and good health as they age, so it's essential for them to attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they appear to be healthy.
Our vets are here to help geriatric pets in Groton achieve optimal health by finding and treating emerging health conditions early, and by providing quick treatment options while we can still effectively and easily manage the conditions.
Typical Health Problems
Because of the improved dietary options and better veterinary care available, companion pets are living longer than ever.
While this is definitely news to celebrate, pet parents and veterinarians, are now facing more age-related conditions than they did in previous years as well.
Senior cats and dogs are generally prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog enters their golden years, there are a handful of joint or bone disorders that can cause them discomfort and pain. A few of the most common joint and bone disorders our veterinarians see in geriatric canines include arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, reduction in spinal flexibility, and growth plate disorders.
It's essential to address these conditions early to help your dog be 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 usually a problem associated with 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 experience a decrease in range of motion the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats include 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. Lameness generally found in dogs is not often reported by cat owners.
Cancer can often be fatal in cats and dogs which is why your senior pet needs to visit the vet for regular wellness exams as they age.
Bringing your geriatric cat or dog to the vet for routine checkups even when they look healthy allows your veterinarian to examine them for early signs of cancer and other diseases which are easier to treatment when caught in their earliest stages.
- Heart Disease
Heart disease can be problematic for geriatric pets, just as it is for people.
Senior dogs can often suffer from congestive heart failure, which happens when the heart isn't pumping blood efficiently, causing fluid to back up in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
While we see heart disease less frequently in cats than in dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is fairly 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, however, this condition is seen in dogs more often than in cats.
When these conditions are age-related they may come on slowly, allowing geriatric pets to adjust their behavior, making it difficult for pet owners to notice.
- Liver disease
Liver disease is common in senior cats and might 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 lead to a variety of serious symptoms including seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, and weight loss.
If your geriatric pet is displaying any of the symptoms of liver disease, you need to get them veterinary care as soon as possible.
Although cats and dogs can develop diabetes at any age, most dogs are diagnosed at approximately 7-10 years of age and the majority of cats that are diagnosed with diabetes are over 6 years of age.
Symptoms of diabetes in both dogs and cats include excessive thirst, increased appetite accompanied by weight loss, cloudy eyes, and chronic or recurring infections.
Obesity can increase the risk of diabetes for your cat or dog.
- Kidney disease
As pets enter their senior years, their kidneys tend to lose their function. In some situations, kidney disease can be caused by the medications used to treat other common conditions seen in senior pets.
While chronic kidney disease can't be cured, it can be managed with a combination of medications and diet.
- Urinary tract disease
Our Groton 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 their bladder weaken, but it's important to know that incontinence could be a sign of bigger health problems such as a urinary tract infection or dementia.
If your senior pet experiences incontinence issues, it's essential to take them to the vet for a thorough examination.
Veterinary Care for Senior Pets
Our vets will give your senior pet a thorough examination, ask for details about their home life and conduct any tests that might be required to receive additional insight into your cat or dog's general health and physical condition.
Depending on what our vets find, we'll recommend a treatment plan that could potentially include medications, activities, and dietary changes that should help improve your senior pet's health, well-being, and comfort.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is an essential part of helping your senior pet live a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life. It also provides our vets with the opportunity to diagnose any diseases early.
Early detection of disease will help preserve your pet's physical health and catch emerging health conditions before they turn into long-term problems.
With regular physical examinations, your cat or dog will have their best chance at quality long-term health.