Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
To help them maintain a good quality of life as they continue to age, senior pets need routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis 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 veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in Springfield 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.
As a result, pet owners and veterinarians are facing more age-related conditions than they did in the past.
Senior pets are typically prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog grows older, a number of joint or bone disorders can result in pain and discomfort for them. Common joint and bone disorders in geriatric pets include arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, reduction in spinal flexibility and growth plate disorders.
Addressing these issues early is the best way to keep your pets comfortable as they age. Treatment for joint and bone issues in senior dogs can include reducing levels of exercise, using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, and 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.
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 an 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 U.S. 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 if they seem healthy — allows your veterinarian to examine them for early signs of cancer and other diseases that 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 frequently suffer from congestive heart failure, which happens when the heart does not properly pump blood, causing fluid to build 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
Degeneration of the eyes and ears in senior pets can result in different degrees of deafness and blindness, but this is more prevalent in dogs than in cats.
When these conditions are related to age, they may come on slowly. That means geriatric pets have time to adjust their behavior, which can make 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. Loss of appetite, jaundice, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and increased thirst are all symptoms of liver illness in cats.
Liver disease in dogs can cause a number of serious symptoms including seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, and weight loss.
Although dogs and cats can develop diabetes at any age, most dogs are diagnosed at approximately 7 to 10 years old, and the majority of cats diagnosed with diabetes are over 6 years old.
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.
Chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, but it can be controlled by a mix of diet and medicines.
- Urinary tract disease
Our Springfield 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 veterinarians will thoroughly inspect your senior pet, ask detailed questions about their home life, and run any tests that may be necessary to get further insight into his or her general physical health and condition.
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.
Early illness diagnosis will assist protect your pet's physical health and discover potential health issues before they become long-term difficulties.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.
New Patients Welcome
Greenbrier-Springfield Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Springfield companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.