Geriatric Care for Pets
Senior pets require a little extra routine care as they continue to age. Diagnosing potential issues early is key to helping them live a long and healthy life.
Ensuring that you stick with regularity scheduled routine care will extend your pet's life and good health as they age, it is imperative that they attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they don't currently have any noticeable issues.
Our veterinarians have a goal of helping older pets in Denver live a long and healthy life by identifying and treating potential health issues early, and suggesting preventive care options while we can still effectively and easily manage them.
Typical Health Problems
A general improvement in veterinary care, as well as dietary changes and technological advances, are helping to provide better veterinary care, our family pets are living much longer and healthier than they might have in the past.
However, this does mean that pet owners and veterinarians now have to be more proactive with preventive care as their pet is aging.
Senior pets are typically prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog makes their way into old age, there are many joint or bone disorders that could possibly cause pain and discomfort for your pet. Some of the most common joint and bone disorders that our vets see in geriatric pets include arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, reduction in spinal flexibility, and growth plate disorders.
When it comes to these issues, an early diagnosis is essential in order to keep your dog comfortable as they continue to age. Treatment in senior dogs for bone and joint issues could range from simply reducing levels of exercise, to the use of analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs. If the issues have progressed beyond preventive care then your vet may recommend surgery to remove diseased tissue, stabilize joints or reduce pain.
While osteoarthritis is most commonly thought to affect dogs it is a painful condition that can also affect your senior cat's joints.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis may not be as prominent in cats. The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats include weight loss, loss of appetite, depression, change in composure, lack of grooming habits, urination or defecation outside the litter pan, and the decreased range of motion affecting their ability to jump on and off objects.
Approximately 50% of all pets in the US are thought to die from various cancers. Which makes it all the more important to schedule your senior animal in for regular vet visits.
Cancers and most other diseases are highly treatable as long as they are caught early enough. Bringing your geriatric pet in for a check-up allows your vet the opportunity to look for any signs of cancer and disease.
- Heart Disease
Heart disease is a condition that is prevalent in both senior dogs and cats.
While senior dogs are known to suffer primarily from congestive heart failure, caused by the heart not efficiently pumping blood, causing fluid to back up in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
Cats may not experience heart disease as commonly as dogs do they do still have other conditions that may affect them. Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a relatively common condition among senior cats. This condition mainly causes the walls of a cat’s heart to thicken, which over time decreases the heart’s ability to function efficiently.
- Blindness and hearing loss
In both dogs and cats, degeneration in the eyes and ears is fairly common can lead to varying degrees of deafness and blindness in older pets.
When these conditions are brought on by old age as opposed to a specific condition it may happen slowly over time. Unfortunately, this gives geriatric pets the opportunity to adjust their behavior and makes it difficult for pet owners to notice.
- Liver disease
In senior cats, liver disease is typically caused by high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism. Some of the common symptoms of liver disease in cats include loss of appetite, jaundice, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst.
Liver disease in dogs causes its own wide range of severe symptoms including seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, and weight loss.
If you notice your senior dog or cat displaying any of the symptoms listed above you should call your vet immediately.
While it is possible for your dog or cat to develop diabetes at any age, most dogs are most commonly diagnosed around approximately 7-10 years of age, and cats are typically diagnosed with diabetes when they are over 6 years of age.
Some common symptoms of diabetes in your pet might include excessive thirst, increased appetite accompanied by weight loss, cloudy eyes, and chronic or recurring infections.
A dog or cat that is overweight has a much higher risk of developing diabetes.
- Kidney disease
As your pet gets older, its kidneys might begin to lose their function. Unfortunately, kidney disease can sometimes be caused by medications that are being used to treat other conditions that your geriatric pet might be experiencing.
Chronic kidney disease is not curable but it can be easily managed with a combination of diet and medications.
- Urinary tract disease
Urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues are commonly seen by our Denver vets often when it comes to geriatric cats and dogs. Elderly pets are much prone to incontinence issues due to the muscles controlling the bladder weakening with age. It is important to have incontinence issues evaluated as it could be a sign of a bigger health issue such as a urinary tract infection or dementia.
If your senior pet is experiencing bladder issues of any sort it is important to schedule an appointment with your 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 gives our vets the opportunity 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.
One of the most difficult choices we must make as pet parents is when to let our beloved companion go. At Downtown Animal Care Center, we do everything we can to make your pet's final moments calm, comfortable and free of pain. After a quality of life assessment has been conducted to ensure all other alternatives are exhausted, we can offer the information and support you need to make decisions during this difficult time. We also offer counseling for grieving pet owners.
One Last Gift gives you and your pet the gift of being able to say your goodbyes in your own home where your pet feels safe and comfortable. Dr. Cordeiro will help you say goodbye in the way that your beloved family pet deserves.