Geriatric Care for Senior Pets
For senior cats and dogs to stay healthy as they continue to get older, they require routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis for age-related conditions during their senior years.
Proactive preventive care can help extend your pet's longevity and good health as they age, so it's essential for them to attend routinely scheduled wellness exams, even if they appear to be healthy.
Our veterinarians are available to assist Rockland County's geriatric cats and dogs in achieving excellent health by finding and treating arising health issues early, and providing early treatment while we can still easily and effectively manage their condition.
Typical Health Problems
As a result of the better dietary options and improved veterinary care available, companion pets are living longer today than they ever have before.
This is definitely news to be celebrated but, pet parents and veterinarians now face more age-related conditions than they did in previous years as well.
Geriatric cats and dogs are typically prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog passes their middle-age years, there's a range of bone or joint disorders that could cause them discomfort and pain. A handful of the most common joint and bone disorders in geriatric pups that our vets see include hip dysplasia, arthritis, reduction in spinal flexibility, osteochondrosis, and growth plate disorders.
Attending to these conditions early is essential for keeping your dog comfortable as they age. Treatment for joint and bone issues in senior dogs can range from easily reducing their levels of exercise, using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, to surgery that removes diseased tissue, stabilizes joints or reduces pain.
People usually associate osteoarthritis with older dogs, but cats are also able to develop this painful condition in their 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 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's important for your senior pet to see their primary care vet for routine wellness exams as they age because many senior pets in the US pass away as a result of cancer.
Taking your geriatric cat or dog in for routine checkups (even when they look healthy) gives your vet the opportunity to examine them for early signs of cancer and other diseases that generally respond better to treatment when caught early.
- Heart Disease
Similar to people, senior cats and dogs are at risk for heart disease.
Senior dogs often suffer from congestive heart failure, which develops when their heart isn't pumping blood efficiently, leading to fluid back up in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
While heart disease isn't reported as often in cats as in dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is seen fairly often. 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 cause varying degrees of deafness and blindness in geriatric cats and dogs, however, it's seen more often in dogs than in cats.
When these conditions are age-related they generally come on slowly, allowing senior pets to adjust their behavior, making it difficult for pet owners to notice.
- Liver disease
Liver diseases are relatively common in senior cats and can be the result of hyperthyroidism or high blood pressure. The symptoms of liver disease in cats include jaundice, loss of appetite, vomiting, drooling, 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 you notice any of the signs of liver disease in your geriatric dog or cat it's essential that they receive veterinary care.
Even though both cats and dogs can develop diabetes at any stage of their lives, most dogs are diagnosed with it between the ages of 7-10 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 get older, their kidneys start to lose their function. Sometimes, kidney disease can develop as a result of the medications used to treat other common conditions seen in geriatric animals.
Though chronic kidney disease can't be cured, it can be managed with diet and medications.
- Urinary tract disease
Our Rockland County vets frequently see geriatric cats and dogs with urinary tract issues and incontinence problems. Elderly pets are prone to accidents as the muscles controlling the bladder become weaker, but it's essential to know that incontinence can be a sign of larger health problems such as urinary tract infections or dementia.
If your senior cat or dog is experiencing incontinence issues you need to take them to your vet for a comprehensive examination.
Veterinary Care for Seniors
Our veterinarians will give your pet a thorough examination, ask for specific details about their home life and conduct any needed tests to obtain further insight into your cat or dog's condition and overall physical health.
Depending on what your vet finds, we'll provide you with treatment options that could potentially consist of dietary changes, activities, and medications that may help improve your senior pet's comfort, health, and well-being.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is key to helping your senior cat or dog live a fulfilled, happy and healthy life. It also provides your veterinarian with the opportunity to spot emerging diseases early.
Early detection of disease will help your pet maintain their physical health and detect arising health conditions before they turn into long-term problems.
With regular physical examinations, your senior cat or dog will be given their best chance at long-term quality health.