Geriatric Care for Pets
Geriatric Care for Senior Pets
To help them maintain great quality of life as they continue to age, senior dogs and cats need routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis during their golden years.
Diligent care can play a key role in extending your pet's life and good health as they age, so it's imperative that they attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets from across Dallas achieve ideal health by detecting and treating emerging health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while they can still be managed easily and effectively.
Typical Health Problems
Due to better veterinary care and improved dietary options, our cats and dogs are living much longer today than they have in the past.
While we can certainly celebrate this fact, pet owners and veterinarians are now encountering more age-related health conditions than they did in the past as well.
Senior pets are typically prone to these conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
We've diagnosed many senior dogs entering their golden years with joint or bone disorders, which may cause pain and discomfort. Some of the most common joint and bone disorders that our vets see in geriatric pets include growth plate disorders, arthritis, reduction in spinal flexibility, osteochondrosis and hip dysplasia.
It's critical to address these issues early so your dog can remain comfortable as they continue to age. Treatment options for joint and bone issues in senior dogs range from reducing levels of exercise to using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, to surgery to stabilize joints, reduce pain or removed diseased tissue.
While we typically think of osteoarthritis as a condition older dogs encounter, this painful condition can also impact your senior cat's joints.
In cats, symptoms of osteoarthritis are more subtle than those in dogs. While cats may experience a decrease in range of motion, the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats include poor grooming habits, urination or defecation outside the litter pan, weight loss, depression, inability to jump on and off objects and loss of appetite. That said, lameness that is typically seen in dogs is not usually 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 Dallas 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 examination, perform any tests that may be needed and ask about their home life in detail to gain additional insight into his or her general physical health and condition.
Based on our findings, we'll develop a treatment plan that may include activities, medications and dietary changes to help improve your pet's health, comfort and well-being.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is essential to helping your senior pet live a happy, healthy and fulfilled life.
During Wellness Exams, our veterinarians also take the opportunity to check for and identify diseases and other health issues early.
Early detection of disease will help preserve your pet's physical health and catch developing health issues before they become long-term problems.
Regular physical examinations offer your pet the best chance at quality long-term health.
New Patients Welcome
North Tollway Pet Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Dallas companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.