Senior Cat & Dog Geriatric Care
Our geriatric veterinarians help senior dogs and cats from across Central Massachusetts maintain a high quality of life as they continue to age. Senior pets require routine preventive care and early diagnosis in their golden years.
Active care can help lengthen your geriatric cat or dog's life and good health as they get older making it important to bring them in for regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they appear healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets achieve excellent health by finding and treating emerging health conditions early. We then providing proactive treatment while we can still quickly and effectively manage the issue.
Typical Health Problems
Because of the improved dietary options and better veterinary care available, pets are living much longer than before.
While this is something to celebrate, veterinarians and pet owners are now encountering more age-related conditions than they did in the past.
Aging pets are generally prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
When your dog is in their senior years, there is a range of joint or bone disorders that can cause them pain and discomfort. A few of the most frequent bone and joint disorders our vets see in older dogs are arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, reduction in spinal flexibility, and growth plate disorders.
Finding and addressing these issues in their early stages is key in keeping your dog comfortable as they age. Treatment options for joint and bone issues in geriatric dogs can include reducing their levels of exercise, using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, surgery to remove diseased tissue, stabilizing joints or reducing pain.
While osteoarthritis is usually a condition we associate with older dogs, this painful condition can also affect your senior cat's joints.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats are often more subtle than in dogs. While cats can experience a decrease in their range of motion the symptoms our vets most often see 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.
People believe that 50% of all pets in the US die from cancers. Which why it's very important for you to bring your senior pet to the vet for regular wellness exams.
When your geriatric pet visits your vet for routine exams (even when they seem healthy) it allows your veterinarian to check them for early signs of cancer and other diseases. These conditions respond better to treatment when they are found in their earliest stages.
- Heart Disease
Heart disease is just as big of a problem for geriatric pets as it is for humans.
Senior dogs often experience congestive heart failure, which happens when the heart isn't pumping blood efficiently, causing fluid to back up in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
Even though heart disease is seen less in cats than in dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is fairly common. This condition causes the walls of a cat’s heart to thicken, lowering 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
Liver disease is common in senior cats and may be the result of high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism. Some of the symptoms of liver disease in cats are loss of appetite, jaundice, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst.
Liver disease in dogs can create a handful of serious symptoms including seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, and weight loss.
If your geriatric cat or dog is showing any symptoms of liver disease, its very important to call your veterinarian.
Even though cats and dogs can develop diabetes at any age, the majority of dogs are are often diagnosed at approximately 7-10 years of age and most cats diagnosed with diabetes are over 6 years old.
Symptoms of diabetes in cats and dogs include chronic or recurring infections, excessive thirst, increased appetite accompanied by weight loss and cloudy eyes.
A huge risk factor for both cats and dogs is obesity.
- Kidney disease
As pets age, their kidneys tend to lose their function. Sometimes, kidney disease can be caused by medications used to treat other common conditions seen in geriatric pets.
Even though chronic kidney disease can't be cured, it can be managed with both diet and medications.
- Urinary tract disease
Urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues are often seen by our vets in geriatric cats and dogs. Elderly pets can be prone to accidents as the muscles controlling the bladder weaken, however it's important to note that incontinence could be a sign of a larger health issue such as a urinary tract infection or dementia.
If your senior pet suffers from incontinence issues it's important to take them to the vet for a thorough examination.
Veterinary Care for Seniors
Our vets will give your pet a thorough examination, ask for specific details about their home life and conduct any tests that might be required to receive more insight into their general physical condition and health.
Depending on what we find, we will recommend a treatment plan that could potentially include medications, activities and dietary changes that might help better your senior pet's health, well-being and comfort.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is a mandatory part of helping your senior pet live a healthy and fulfilled life. It also gives our veterinarians the chance to find diseases early.
Finding a disease early will help preserve your pet's physical health and catch emerging health issues before they develop into serious long-term problems.
By taking your geriatric cat or dog to the vet for regular physical examinations, your are giving them the best chance at quality long-term health.
Welcoming Cats & Dogs to Our Animal Hospital
Wachusett Animal Hospital and Pet Retreat is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Westminster companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.