Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
With routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis, our veterinarians can help senior pets maintain a good quality of life as they age.
Diligent care can help extend your pet's life and good health as they enter their golden years, so it's important that they attend regularly scheduled routine exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinary team is here to help geriatric pets from across Merced achieve ideal health by identifying and treating emerging health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while they can still be effectively and easily managed.
Typical Health Problems
Companion cats and dogs are living much longer than they have in the past, thanks to better veterinary care and improved dietary options.
While we can certainly rejoice in this news, pet owners and their veterinarians now also face more age-related conditions than they did in the past.
Senior pets are typically prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
Senior dogs can experience many joint or bone disorders that can cause discomfort and pain. Some of the most common bone and joint disorders diagnosed in geriatric pets include hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, arthritis, growth plate disorders and reduction in spinal flexibility.
To keep your dog comfortable as they continue to age, it's essential to address these issues early. Treatment for joint and bone problems in senior dogs ranges from simply decreasing levels of exercise to using anti-inflammatory drugs or analgesics, to performing surgery to stabilize joints, reduce pain or remove diseased tissue.
While older dogs are most well-known for displaying symptoms of osteoarthritis, your senior cat can also experience this painful condition in their joints.
In cats, symptoms of osteoarthritis are more subtle than they are in dogs. While cats may experience a decrease in range of motion, the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis that appear in geriatric cats include loss of appetite, change in general attitude, weight loss, depression, urination or defecation outside the litter pan, poor grooming habits, and inability to jump on or off objects. Lameness usually seen in dogs is not commonly reported by cat 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 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 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 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 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
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 Merced 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 vets will give your senior pet a thorough physical exam, inquire about their home life and conduct any tests that may be needed to gain additional insight into his or her general physical health and condition.
Based on our findings, we'll recommend a treatment plan that may include activities, dietary changes and medications that may help improve your senior pet's health, comfort and well-being.
If your senior pet needs specialized care or diagnosis that we are unable to provide, we may be able to refer you to a geriatric veterinarian near Merced.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is vital to helping your senior pet live a healthy, happy and fulfilled life, It also allows our veterinarians the opportunity to identify diseases early.
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.