Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
In order to help your aging pet maintain their quality of life as they grow old, routine preventive care and early diagnosis are essential all throughout their golden years.
Diligent care can help extend your pet's life and good health as they age, so it's important that they attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinary team is here to help your Goleta geriatric pet to achieve their optimal health by assessing, diagnosing and treating health issues as early as possible, and providing proactive treatment while their conditions are still easily managed.
Typical Health Problems
Because of improvements in the nutritional options and veterinary care available to our pets, dogs and cats are now living far longer lives than they ever have in the past.
While this is certainly something worth celebrating, pet owners and veterinarians now also face more age-related health issues than ever before too.
Senior pets are typically prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog reaches their golden years, there are a number of joint or bone disorders that can result in pain and discomfort. Some of the most common joint and bone disorders in geriatric pets that our veterinarians see include arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, reduction in spinal flexibility, and growth plate disorders.
Addressing these kinds of issues as early as possible is key to keeping your dog comfortable as they grow older. Treatment for joint and bone issues in senior dogs can also range from just reducing their levels of exercise to using anti-inflammatory medications, to even surgery to remove tissue and stabilize joints.
While osteoarthritis is a condition more commonly associated with dogs than cats, it is also capable of affecting your feline friend's joints as they grow into their senior years.
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 typically seen in dogs is not commonly reported by cat owners.
It is believed that approximately 50% of all pets in the US die from cancers. That's why it's important for your senior pet 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
Heart issues can affect geriatric pets just like they affect people.
Senior pets commonly suffer from congestive heart failure, which occurs when their heart isn't able to properly pump blood around their body, causing a fluid backup into their 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
The degeneration of the function in the eyes and ears of your pet may lead to differing degrees of deafness and blindness in your older pet, although this is much more common in dogs than it is 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.
In dogs, liver disease can cause a variety of quite serious symptoms, including seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, fever, abdominal fluid backup 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 our pets age, their kidneys tend to lose some of their function. In some instances, kidney diseases may be caused by medications used to treat other health issues in our senior pets.
While chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, it can be managed with a combination of diet and medications.
- Urinary tract disease
Our Goleta 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 will provide your pet with a thorough examination, ask about their home life and perform any tests that may be required to gain a fuller understanding of your cat or dog's overall health and well-being.
Based on the findings, we'll recommend a treatment plan that can potentially include medications, activities and dietary changes that may help improve your senior pet's health, well-being and comfort.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is essential to helping your senior pet live a healthy, happy and fulfilled life. It also gives our veterinarians the opportunity to detect diseases early.
The early detection of diseases and conditions can help to preserve your pet's physical health by providing our vets with the opportunity to begin treatment before your pet's health issues become more serious.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.