Veterinary Geriatrics for Senior Pets
In order to help your pet maintain a good quality of life as they age, our senior pets require regularly scheduled routine care and early diagnosis all throughout their golden years.
Diligent preventive care can help to extend your pet's life and maintain their quality of life as they grow old, so it's important that you attend routinely scheduled wellness exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinary geriatrics are here to help geriatric pets in Murfreesboro achieve optimal health by identifying and treating emerging health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while we can still effectively and easily 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 certainly something to be celebrated, pet owners and veterinarians now face more age-related conditions than they did in the past as well.
Senior pets are typically prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog grows older, there are a number of bone ad joint disorders that may result in their pain or discomfort. Some of the most common bone and joint disorders include arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, a reduction in spinal flexibility, and disorders affecting their growth plates.
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.
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.
Ensuring that you bring your geriatric dog or cat in for a routine checkup, even when they seem healthy, gives our veterinarians a chance to examine them for the earliest signs of cancer and other diseases that respond best 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 condition occurs when their heart doesn't pump blood properly, causing fluid to back up in their lungs, heart, 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 kinds of conditions are related to your pet's age, they will develop slowly, allowing for your pet to adjust their behavior and making it more difficult to detect them.
- 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.
In dogs, liver disease may cause a variety of serious symptoms, including vomiting, seizures, diarrhea, fever jaundice, the buildup of abdominal fluid, and rapid 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 Murfreesboro 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 Geriatric Care for Seniors
Our veterinarians will give your senior pet a comprehensive examination, ask you about their habits and home life and perform any diagnostic tests that may be required to get insight into their general physical condition.
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 essential to helping your senior pet live a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life. It also gives our veterinarians the opportunity to detect diseases early.
The early detection and proactive treatment of disease will help to preserve your pet's physical health as well as catch health issues as they emerge, and before they have a chance to become long-term problems.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.