For pets to keep a good quality of life as they get older, they require routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis during their old age.
Diligent care can help extend your pet's life and good health as they age, so it's important that they attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they seem healthy.
Dr. Forest, one of our veterinarians in Cave Creek has a special interest in helping senior pets maintain their health, by finding and treating any health issues early, and starting treatment early when conditions are easier to manage.
Because of the better dietary options and veterinary care available, geriatric cats and dogs are living longer today than they ever have before.
While this is news to celebrate, pet parents and veterinarians, are now encountering more age-related issues than they did in previous years as well.
Senior pets are generally prone to these conditions:
As your dog enters their golden stage of life, there are several joint or bone disorders that can cause them discomfort and pain. A few of the more common joint and bone disorders in geriatric dogs that our vets see regularly include arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, reduction in spinal flexibility, and growth plate disorders.
Having these issues attended to early is key for keeping your dog comfortable as they get older. Treatment for joint and bone issues in senior dogs can range from simply lowering their level of exercise, to using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, to surgery to remove diseased tissue, stabilize joints or reduce pain.
While osteoarthritis is a condition that is often associated with senior dogs, this painful issue could also affect your senior cat's joints.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats are more subtle than those in dogs. While cats can experience a decrease in range of motion the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats include loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, poor grooming habits, change in general attitude, urination, or defecation outside the litter pan, and an inability to jump on and off objects. Lameness that is often seen in dogs is not usually reported by cat owners.
It is believed that approximately almost half of all pets pass away due to a form of cancer. That's why it's important for your senior pet to see their vet for regular wellness exams as they continue to 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.
Like people, heart disease can be a problem for geriatric pets.
Senior dogs often suffer from congestive heart failure, which happens when their heart doesn't pump blood efficiently, leading to a fluid to back up in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
While heart disease isn't seen often in cats, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is typically common. This problem makes the walls of a cat’s heart thicken, decreasing the heart’s ability to function properly.
Degeneration in the eyes and ears can cause various levels of blindness and deafness in older pets, however, this is more common in dogs than in cats.
When these conditions are age-related they can arise slowly, letting senior pets adjust their behavior, making it hard for pet parents to tell.
Liver disease is fairly common in senior cats and could develop as a result of high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of liver disease in cats can include jaundice, diarrhea, loss of appetite, increased thirst, and vomiting.
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.
Even though diabetes can develop at any point in a cat's or dog's life, most dogs are diagnosed when they are between 7-10 years of age, and most cats are diagnosed when they are over 6 years old.
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.
As pets get older, their kidneys often lose their function. Sometimes kidney disease can arise as a result of the medications used to treat other common geriatric conditions in pets.
While chronic kidney isn't able to be cured, it can be managed with a combination of diet and medications.
Our Cave Creek vets often see geriatric cats and dogs with urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues. older pets could be prone to accidents as the muscles controlling their bladder becomes weaker, however, it's important to know that incontinence can be a sign of a bigger health issue such as a urinary tract infection or dementia.
If your senior cat or dog is experiencing incontinence issues you need to take them to the vet for a thorough examination.
Your vet will perform a comprehensive checkup for your senior pet, ask questions about their home life, and perform any tests that might be needed to obtain additional insight into your pet's general physical health and condition.
Depending on what your vet finds, they will recommend a treatment plan that could include medications, activities, and dietary changes that might help improve your senior pet's health, well-being, and comfort.
Preventive care is an important part of helping your senior cat or dog live a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life. It also provides our vets with the chance to spot any diseases early.
Early detection of disease will help your pet maintain their physical health and detect emerging health issues before they develop into long-term problems.
With regular physical examinations, your cat or dog will have their best chance at quality long-term health.
Animal Health Services is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Cave Creek companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.