Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
To help them maintain a good quality of life as they continue to age, senior pets need routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis throughout their golden years.
Diligent care can help extend your pet's life and good health as they age, so they must attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in Grants Pass reach and maintain their optimal wellness by diagnosing 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.
This is exciting news for aging pets and their loving families, but it also means that pet owners and veterinarians now face more age-related conditions than they did in the past as well.
Senior pets are predisposed to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog reaches their golden years, several joint or bone disorders can result in pain and discomfort. Some 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 paramount for keeping your dog comfortable as they get older. Treatment for joint and bone issues in senior dogs can vary from simple reduction of exercise intensity 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.
In cats, symptoms of osteoarthritis are more subtle than those in dogs. While cats can experience a decrease in range of motion, the most common symptoms include weight loss, loss of appetite, depression, change in general attitude, insufficient grooming, urination or defecation outside the litter pan, and inability to jump on and off objects. Difficult walking (lameness) typically seen in dogs is not commonly reported by cat owners.
It is believed that roughly 50% of pets in the US die from cancers. This sad statistic is why it's important to take your senior pet to their routine wellness exams as they age.
Bringing your geriatric pet in for routine checkups even when they seem fine allows your veterinarian to examine them for early signs of cancer and other diseases that can be better treated if caught early.
- Heart Disease
Like people, heart disease can be a problem for geriatric pets.
Senior dogs can often suffer from congestive heart failure, which is when the heart isn't pumping blood efficiently, causing severe symptoms such as fluid backup in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
Although heart disease is less common in cats than dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a relatively common condition. This disorder causes the walls of a cat’s heart to thicken, decreasing the heart’s ability to function efficiently.
- Blindness and hearing loss
Degeneration of your senior pet's eyes and ears can lead to varying degrees of hearing and vision loss in older pets, though this tends to happen more 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 geriatric cats, high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism can be causes of liver disease. Symptoms can include loss of appetite, jaundice, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive thirst.
Liver disease in dogs can cause several 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 critical.
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.
Signs of diabetes in dogs and cats include excessive thirst, increased appetite despite weight loss, cloudy eyes, and chronic or recurring infections.
Both cats and dogs classified as 'obese' are at an elevated risk of developing diabetes.
- Kidney disease
As pets age, their kidneys tend to lose their function. Sometimes, kidney disease can be induced by medications used to treat other common conditions seen in geriatric pets.
While chronic kidney disease does not have a cure, it can be managed with a combination of diet and medications.
- Urinary tract disease
Our Grants Pass vets often see geriatric cats and dogs with urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues. Elderly pets can be prone to accidents due to weakening muscles controlling the bladder, 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 has incontinence issues, it's important to take them 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 his or her general physical health and 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 allows our veterinarians to detect diseases early.
Early detection of disease will help preserve your pet's physical health and catch emerging health issues before they develop into long-term problems.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.
Humane End-of-Life & Euthanasia Services
We understand that saying goodbye to a beloved pet is a heart-wrenching prospect for any loving pet owner. Let our compassionate, caring vet team gently guide you through the process of ensuring your pet is comfortable and well cared for with our humane euthanasia services.