Proactive Care for Your Senior Pets
When it comes to caring for senior pets, the three top priorities are maintaining optimal health, high quality of life, and comfortable mobility. As a result, routine preventive care and early detection of developing conditions are critical for pets as they age.
Diligent care can help extend your pet's life and good health throughout their senior years, so they must attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they appear healthy.
Our veterinarians can help your senior pet achieve optimal health by identifying and treating emerging health issues early, and providing proactive treatment in the early stages when conditions are most easily managed.
Health Problems in Senior Pets
Improvements in nutrition and advances in veterinary science mean that our cherished pets are enjoying increased longevity, living much longer than in the past.
While this is unquestionably a cause for celebration, pet owners and veterinarians are now faced with the challenge of managing the age-related conditions that come with advanced age.
Some of the conditions we commonly see in elderly pets include:
- Joint or Bone Disorders
As your dog reaches their golden years, several joint or bone disorders 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 is believed that approximately 50% of all pets die from cancers. That's why your senior pet needs to visit the veterinarian 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 your dog or cat for early signs of cancer and other developing conditions which respond better to treatment when caught in their earliest stages.
- Heart Disease
Heart disease can be a problem for geriatric pets. Senior dogs often develop conditions such as congestive heart failure.
Heart disease is seen less in cats, however, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is relatively common.
- Blindness & Hearing Loss
Degeneration in the eyes and ears can lead to varying degrees of deafness and blindness in older pets, particularly dogs.
These conditions often come on slowly, allowing geriatric pets to adjust their behaviour and making it difficult for pet owners to notice.
- Liver Disease
Liver disease is common in elderly cats 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, symptoms such as seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, and weight loss can be a sign of liver disease.
If your pet is displaying any symptoms of liver disease, veterinary care is essential.
Although dogs and cats can develop diabetes at any age, most are diagnosed as they surpass middle age.
Symptoms of diabetes in dogs and cats include excessive thirst, increased appetite accompanied by weight loss, cloudy eyes, and chronic or recurring infections.
- Kidney Disease
Kidney function tends to decline as pets age. That said, in some cases, medications used to treat other conditions in geriatric pets can lead to kidney problems.
While chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, it can often be managed with a prescription diet and medications.
- Urinary Tract Disease
Elderly pets can be prone to accidents as the muscles controlling the bladder begin to weaken, but incontinence can be a sign of a bigger health issue such as a urinary tract infection or dementia and should never be ignored.
If your senior pet experiences incontinence issues make an appointment to have them seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Veterinary Care for Older Pets
Our team will examine your senior pet and ask about its diet and lifestyle. Testing may be recommended to gain additional insight into your pet's overall health.
After assessing your pet, your veterinarian will recommend a treatment plan to address any existing health concerns and to help prevent potential age-related issues.
Recommendations may include changes to your pet's diet or exercise routine as well as medications to help your senior pet stay happy and comfortable.
Physicals For Senior Dogs & Cats
Regular examinations for senior pets provide our veterinarians with the opportunity to detect developing conditions early.
When a condition is detected early, treatment can begin when it is most manageable. Often assisting in slowing or stopping the progression of the disease.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance of achieving quality long-term health.