Geriatric Care for Pets
Your senior cat or dog can still maintain optimal health — and feel comfortable — as they reach old age. Our veterinarians in Montecito provide comprehensive geriatric care for aging pets.
Care for Senior Pets
To help your senior pet maintain a good quality of life as they age, they'll need routine preventive care and early diagnosis.
As your geriatric dog or cat enters their golden years, diligent care becomes critical to extending your pet's life and good health, so regularly scheduled routine exams are essential, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets throughout Montecito maintain optimal health by diagnosing and treating developing health issues early and providing proactive treatment, while problems can still be effectively managed.
Typical Health Problems in Senior Pets
Our feline and canine companions are living far longer today than they have historically, due to better veterinary care and improved dietary options.
While this is certainly an achievement to be celebrated, pet parents and veterinarians now also face more age-related conditions than in the past.
Senior pets will typically be prone to these conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As dogs enter their senior years, numerous bone or joint disorders can lead to pain and discomfort. Some of the most common bone and joint disorders that our veterinarians see in geriatric pets include growth plate disorders, osteochondrosis, reduction in spinal flexibility, hip dysplasia and arthritis.
It's essential to address these issues early to keep your dog comfortable as they age. Treatment options may range from simply reducing exercise levels to the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics and surgery to stabilize joints, reduce pain and remove diseased tissue.
While we are more likely to see osteoarthritis in older dogs, senior cat's joints can also be impacted by this painful condition.
In cats, symptoms of osteoarthritis are more subtle than they are in dogs. While cats experience a decrease in range of motion, the most common signs of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats include loss of appetite, depression, changes in general attitude, poor grooming habits, urination or defecation outside the litter box, weight loss and inability to jump on and off objects. While owners may report lameness in their canine companions, this is less commonly reported in cats.
It's believed that about 50% of all pets in the United States die from cancer. This is why it's imperative for your senior pet to see the vet for routine exams as they age.
Bringing your pet in for routine checkups even when they seem healthy allows your veterinarian to check your senior pet for early signs of cancer and other diseases that will respond better to early treatment.
- Heart Disease
Just like people, our geriatric pets can experience heart disease.
Geriatric dogs commonly suffer from congestive heart failure. This condition happens when the blood is pumping efficiently, causing fluid to back up in the heart, chest cavity and lungs.
While we see heart disease less in cats than in dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is relatively common. The condition causes thickening in the walls of the cat's heart, decreasing the heart's ability to work 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. While chronic kidney failure (renal failure) cannot be cured, it can be managed with proper treatment. 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 Montecito 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 veterinary for a thorough examination.
Veterinary Care for Seniors
Your senior pets will receive a thorough examination from the veterinarian, who will ask about their home life in detail and complete any necessary tests we need to gain additional insight into his or her overall physical condition and health.
Based on these findings, we'll recommend a treatment plan that may include activities, dietary changes and medication to help improve your senior pet's health, well-being and comfort.
Routine Wellness Exams for Senior Pets
When it comes to helping your senior pet live a healthy, happy and fulfilled life, preventive care is vital. This gives our veterinarians the chance to detect diseases early.
When we're able to diagnose diseases early, we can help preserve your pet's physical health and identify emerging health issues before they develop into long-term concerns.
Regular physical examinations give your senior pet the best opportunity to enjoy long-term health and quality of life.