Geriatric Pet Care
Geriatric Pet Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
In order to help your pet maintain a good quality of life as they continue to age, senior pets require routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis all throughout their golden years.
Diligent and dedicated veterinary care can help to extend your pet's life and good health as they age, so it is important that you bring them in for regularly scheduled routine wellness exams, even if they seem perfectly healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in Tucson achieve optimal health by identifying and treating emerging health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while we can still effectively and easily manage them.
Typical Health Problems
Due to improved dietary options and better veterinary care, companion cats and dogs are living far longer today than they have in the past.
While this is certainly something to be celebrated, pet owners and veterinarians now face more age-related conditions than they did in the past as well.
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 issues early is essential for keeping your dog 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 typically a condition we think of in older dogs, this painful condition can also affect your senior cat's joints.
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's generally believed that about half of all pets in the United States die of cancer. Because of this, it is important for your senior pet to visit the vet for routine examinations as they grow older.
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
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
The degeneration of your pet's eyes and ears can cause varying degrees of blindness and deafness as your pet ages. This is more common in dogs than it is in cats.
When age-related, these conditions may come on slowly, allowing your pet to adjust their behavior over time and making it quite difficult for pet-owners to notice the change.
- 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 vets often see geriatric cats and dogs in Tucson suffering from urinary tract infections and issues with incontinence. Older pets can often be prone to accidents and their muscles which control their bladder become weaker. It's important to note that incontinence can also be a sign of larger health issues though, including 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.
Geriatric Veterinary Care for Seniors
Our vets will conduct a thorough physical examination of your senior pet and ask about their home life in detail. We will also conduct any tests that may be required to receive further insight into you pet's general condition 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 key to helping your pet to live a happy, healthy and fulfilled life. It also allows our veterinarians to have an opportunity to detect diseases before they become more advanced.
Early detection of disease will help preserve your pet's physical health and 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.
New Patients Welcome
Pet Doctor is accepting new patients! Our experienced veterinary team is passionate about the health of Tucson companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.