Care for Senior Pets
As they age, senior pets need regular preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis to maintain a good quality of life.
Diligent care can help extend your pet's good health and life as they age. It's important for them to attend regular wellness exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in San Jose achieve optimal health. We do this by identifying and treating emerging health issues early. So, we can provide proactive treatment to manage these issues while we still can.
Typical Health Problems
Today cats and dogs are living longer than they have in the past thanks to dietary options and better veterinary care.
While this is something to celebrate, pet owners and veterinarians now face more age-related conditions than they did in the past.
Senior pets are prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog ages, there are many joint or bone disorders that can cause them pain and discomfort. The most 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 essential for keeping your dog comfortable. Treatment for joint and bone issues in senior dogs ranges from reducing levels of exercise, to using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs and, surgery to remove diseased tissue, stabilize joints or reduce pain.
While osteoarthritis is a condition associated with older dogs, it can also affect your senior cat's joints.
Osteoarthritis symptoms in cats is more subtle than with dogs. Cats can experience a decrease in range of motion but, the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats includes loss of weight and 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 seen in dogs is rarely reported by cat owners.
It's 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. Theses conditions respond better to treatment when caught in their earliest stages.
- Heart Disease
As with people, heart disease can be a problem for geriatric pets. Senior dogs often suffer from congestive heart failure. This occurs when the heart isn't pumping blood efficiently, causing fluid to back up in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity. While heart disease occurs less in cats than in dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is common. This condition causes the walls of a cat’s heart to thicken, decreasing the heart’s ability to function properly.
- Blindness and hearing loss
Degeneration in the eyes and ears of senior pets can lead to varying degrees of deafness and blindness. Yet, this is more common in dogs than in cats.
When these conditions are age-related they can come on slowly. When this happens it allows geriatric pets to adjust their behavior accordingly , making it difficult for pet owners to notice.
- Liver disease
Liver disease is common in senior cats and can be the result of high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of liver disease in cats include loss of appetite, drooling, diarrhea, jaundice, vomiting and increased thirst.
In dogs, liver disease can cause many serious symptoms such as, seizures, fever, abdominal fluid build up, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice and weight loss.
If your geriatric pet is displaying any liver disease symptoms, veterinary care is essential.
Dogs and cats can develop diabetes at any age. Although, most dogs with diabetes become diagnosed at approximately 7-10 years of age while, the majority of cats are over 6 years old when diagnosed.
Symptoms of diabetes in cats and dogs include excessive thirst, increased appetite accompanied by weight loss, chronic or recurring infections and cloudy eyes.
Obesity is a big risk factor for diabetes in both cats and dogs.
- Kidney disease
As your pet ages, their kidneys can start to lose their function. Sometimes, kidney disease can develop as a result of medications used to treat other common conditions seen in geriatric pets.
While there is no cure for chronic kidney disease, a combination of diet and medications can help manage it.
- Urinary tract disease
Often our San Jose vets 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. Note that incontinence can be a sign of a bigger health issue such as a urinary tract infection or dementia.
If your geriatric cat or dog pet has incontinence issues take them to the vet for a thorough examination.
Veterinary Care for Seniors
Our vets will give your geriatric cat or dog a comprehensive examination. They will ask for details about your animal companions life at home and, perform any tests needed to get more insight into their physical health condition.
Based on our findings, we'll recommend a treatment plan that may include dietary changes, medications and activities to help improve your senior pet's comfort and health.
Preventive care is an essential part in helping your senior pet live a happy and healthy life. And, it gives our veterinarians the chance to detect diseases early.
Early detection of a disease helps catch emerging health issues before they develop into long-term problems.
With regular examinations, your pet will get the best chance to live a long high-quality life.