Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
Diligent care can help extend your pet's life and maintain better health as they get older, so it's important they get regular wellness exams, even if they seem healthy.
Preventive veterinary care is the best way to ensure your pet ages gracefully with minimal to no health issues. Our veterinarians offer routine checkups, which emphasize early diagnoses.
Our veterinarians help geriatric pets in Cincinnati 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
A dog's golden years can come with several joint or bone disorders, which can lead to discomfort if not addressed early on.
Some of the most common joint and bone disorders in geriatric pets that our veterinarians see include arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, reduction in spinal flexibility and growth plate disorders.
Addressing these issues early is essential for keeping dogs comfortable as they get older. Treatment for joint and bone issues in senior dogs ranges from simply reducing levels of exercise and using 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.
It is believed that approximately 50% of all pets in the U.S. die from cancers. That's why your senior pet needs 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 that 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 a relatively common condition that causes the walls of the heart to thicken, decreasing its ability to function efficiently.
- Blindness and hearing loss
Though more common in dogs than in cats, degeneration in the eyes and ears can lead to varying degrees of deafness and blindness in older pets.
When these conditions are age-related, they may come on slowly, which allows geriatric pets to adjust their behaviors accordingly. That, in turn, can make it difficult for pet owners to notice there is a problem. However, routine wellness exams will help veterinarians spot these issues sooner.
- 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 many 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 when they're between 7 and 10 years old and the majority of cats diagnosed with diabetes are older than 6 years.
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 also a risk factor for diabetes for cats and dogs.
- Kidney disease
As pets age, their kidneys tend to lose 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 Cincinnati 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.
It's important to note, however, that incontinence can also 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 thoroughly examine your senior pet, ask about their home life in detail and perform any tests that may be required to receive additional insight into their general health.
Based on the findings, we'll recommend a treatment plan to 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 life that is healthy, happy and fulfilled. It also gives our veterinarians the opportunity to detect and treat diseases early on.
Early detection of disease will help preserve your pet's physical health and catch emerging health issues before they develop into long-term problems.