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 San Mateo achieve optimal health by detecting and treating emerging health issues early on and providing proactive treatment while they are still manageable.
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 to be applauded, pet owners and veterinarians now face a greater number of age-related conditions than in the past.
Senior pets are typically prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
There are a number of joint or bone disorders that can cause pain and discomfort in your dog as they get older. Arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, reduced spinal flexibility, and growth plate disorders are among the most common joint and bone disorders seen by our veterinarians in geriatric pets.
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.
Osteoarthritis symptoms in cats are more subtle than in dogs. 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 are all common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats. Cat owners are less likely to report lameness than dog owners.
It is believed that approximately 50% of all pets in the US 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 appear to be in good health, allows your veterinarian to look for early signs of cancer and other diseases that respond better to treatment when caught early.
- 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 cats are less likely than dogs to develop heart disease, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is fairly common. The walls of a cat's heart thicken as a result of this condition, reducing 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 are age-related they may come on slowly, allowing geriatric pets to adjust their behavior and making it difficult for pet owners to notice.
- Liver disease
Liver disease is common in senior cats and can be caused by high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism. Loss of appetite, jaundice, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst are all signs of liver disease 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.
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
Geriatric cats and dogs with urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues are frequently seen by our San Mateo veterinarians. Because the muscles that control the bladder weaken with age, elderly pets are more prone to accidents. However, incontinence can be a sign of a larger health problem, 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 examine your senior pet thoroughly, ask detailed questions about their home life, and perform any tests that may be necessary to gain additional insight into his or her overall physical health and condition.
We'll recommend a treatment plan based on the findings, which could include medications, activities, and dietary changes to help improve your senior pet's health, well-being, and comfort.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is critical for your senior pet's health, happiness, and fulfillment. It also allows our veterinarians to detect diseases at an early stage.
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.