Geriatric Care for Your Pet
Senior pets require frequent routine care as well as specialized diagnostics to help them maintain a healthy condition as they age.
Ensuring a consistent wellness exam schedule will go a long way in helping to extend your pet's life and good health as they age, even in the moments which they appear to be in perfect health.
Our veterinarian team in Fountain Valley is passionate about providing your senior pet the best care possible through proactive preventive care and treatment.
Common Health Issues
To the delight of pet owners, our companion animals can live longer than ever before.
Unfortunately, this means that there is a new hurdle of how to provide the best care possible to our aging pets to help them live comfortably and pain-free.
Some of the most common conditions that a senor pet may face are:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog ages, joint or bone disorders will become an issue that will require proactive care as these disorders can result in pain and discomfort for your pup. Our vets see some joint and bone disorders in geriatric pets more than others including arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, reduction in spinal flexibility, and growth plate disorders.
It is imperative to apply preventive care as early as possible for these issues to help your dog live comfortably as they continue to age. Some of the treatment options available for joint and bone issues in senior dogs vary from a reduction in levels of exercise to the use of analgesics and anti-inflammatory medications or even surgery to remove any diseased tissue, stabilize joints or reduce pain.
While osteoarthritis is a condition that is more common in senior dogs, this uncomfortable condition is also able to affect your senior cat's joints.
Cats are less likely to show any symptoms of this joint disorder compared to dogs. Geriatric cats will often experience a decrease in motion while experiencing the symptoms of osteoarthritis as well as showing other signs that can 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.
Cancer is incredibly common among pets and It is believed that roughly 50% of all pets in the US die from cancer. These statistics make frequent wellness exams incredibly important.
Having your senior pet visit with your vet for routine checkups even when they seem healthy allows for early detection of cancers and other diseases which have a better chance of responding to treatment when caught in their earliest stages.
- Heart Disease
Heart disease is one of the most common issues seen in geriatric pets.
Our vets commonly diagnose congestive heart failure in senior dogs, which is a condition that occurs when the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently through the body, which results in fluid flowing back up in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
For senior cats, the most common heart issue is Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). The effects of this heart condition cause 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 is common in all animals, although it is known to be more common in aging dogs than it is in cats. The degree of hearing and vision loss can vary greatly with these conditions.
These conditions can be incredibly difficult to notice and diagnose since they may come on slowly, allowing geriatric pets to adjust their behavior accordingly.
- Liver disease
High blood pressure or hyperthyroidism in geriatric cats is known to potentially cause liver disease. Some of the signs of liver disease in cats might include loss of appetite, jaundice, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst.
Liver disease in dogs can appear a little different as it may cause some serious symptoms including seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, and weight loss.
If you note any of the above signs or symptoms in your senior pet please contact your vet immediately.
Diabetes in your pet can occur at any age, dogs are most commonly diagnosed around approximately 7-10 years of age, and cats are usually diagnosed with diabetes around 6 years of age or older.
Some possible symptoms of diabetes in your pet might include excessive thirst, increased appetite accompanied by weight loss, cloudy eyes, and chronic or recurring infections.
One common risk factor for diabetes in both cats and dogs is obesity.
- Kidney disease
It is common for pets to lose the function of their kidneys over time. Occasionally, kidney disease is a side effect that is caused by medications used to treat other diseases seen in geriatric pets.
Chronic kidney disease is unable to be cured but can be managed with a combination of diet and medications.
- Urinary tract disease
One of the most common conditions seen by our Fountain Valley vets in geriatric cats and dogs is urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues. Aging pets are susceptible to accidents as the muscles controlling the bladder weaken as they age, but it's important to keep in mind that incontinence issues could be a sign of a more pressing health concern such as a urinary tract infection or dementia.
It is always a good idea to have your pet examined if they are experiencing any bladder or incontinence issues.
Veterinary Care for Senior Pets
During their routine wellness exam, your vet will perform a complete exam on your senior pet. They will inquire about their home life as well as perform any diagnostic testing that may be required to receive additional insight into their overall physical health and condition.
Your vet will use the findings from this exam and testing to recommend a treatment plan that could potentially include things such as medications, activities, and dietary changes that may help improve your senior pet's health, well-being, and comfort.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is a key component for helping your senior pet live a long, healthy, and comfortable life. It will also allow our veterinarians the opportunity to detect any conditions early.
Detecting diseases and conditions early is crucial for being able to provide the most effective treatment possible.
Routine physical examinations provide your pet with the best chance at quality long-term health.