Geriatric Care for Pets
Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
In order to help your pet to maintain an excellent quality of life as they age, senior pets need routine preventive care and early diagnosis of health issues as they grow old.
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 can help geriatric pets in the Wisconsin Dells area to achieve optimal health by identifying and treating emerging health issues as early as possible while providing proactive treatments while we are able to still effectively 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 absolutely something worth celebrating, it also means that veterinarians and pet owners face more age-related health conditions in animals than they ever have before too. Senior pets are typically prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your pooch reaches old age, there are a number of joint disorders that may cause pain or discomfort. Some of the most common bone and joint disorders found in geriatric pets seen by our veterinarians include hip dysplasia, a 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.
We know that a fair amount of our geriatric pets in the United States die from cancer. Because of this, it is hugely important that you bring your senior pet in to see a 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
Like people, heart disease can be a problem for geriatric pets.
Senior dogs will commonly suffer from congestive heart failure. This occurs when the heart isn't able to efficiently pump blood, causing fluids to back up in your pooch's 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 in the eyes and ears can lead to varying degrees of deafness and blindness in older pets, although this is more common in dogs than in cats.
When these conditions develop because of age in your pet, it is often a slow onset. This allows older pets to gradually adjust their behavior to their new senses and can make it quite difficult to notice the chance for owners.
- 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 Wisconsin Dells vets often see geriatric cats and dogs with urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues.
Elderly pets can become more prone to accidents as the muscles that control their bladders weaken. However, it's important to remember that incontinence may actually be a sign of much more serious issues like urinary tract infections or dementia in your dog or cat.
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 examine your senior pet, asking about their home life and performing any diagnostic tests that may be required to get additional insight into your companion's general physical health, 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 critical in helping your senior pet to live a healthy, happy and fulfilled life. It also gives our vets the chance to detect health issues early, while they are still at their most treatable
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.