Geriatric Care for Senior Pets
While we want our pets with us for as long as possible, it's important to help them maintain a good quality of life as they continue to age through routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis of any potential conditions.
Because diligent care can help extend your pet's life and good health as they age, it's important that they be taken to regular wellness exams even if they seem healthy.
Our vets are here to help geriatric pets in West Salem achieve optimal health by identifying and treating emerging health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while we can still effectively and easily manage them.
Typical Health Problems for Geriatric Pets
Companion cats and dogs are living far longer today due to improved dietary options and better veterinary care.
Although pet owners can celebrate this fact, they and their veterinarians now face more age-related conditions than they did in the past as well.
Senior pets are typically prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog ages, there are a number of joint or bone disorders that 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 imperative for keeping your dog comfortable as they get older. Treatment for joint and bone issues in senior dogs can range from simply reducing levels of exercise, to using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, to surgery to remove diseased tissue, stabilize joints or reduce pain.
While osteoarthritis is Despite most people thinking of osteoarthritis as a condition affecting older dogs, this painful condition can also affect your senior cat's joints.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats are more subtle than those in dogs. Cats can experience a decrease in range of motion, but the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats include weight loss, loss of appetite, depression, change in general attitude, poor grooming habits, urination or defecation outside the litterbox, and difficulty or inability to jump on and off objects. The lameness typically seen in dogs is not commonly reported by cat owners.
It is believed that approximately 50% of pets in the US die from cancers, which highlights the importance of taking senior pets to the vet for routine wellness exams as they age.
Bringing your geriatric pet in for routine checkups even when they seem healthy gives your veterinarian a chance to examine them for early signs of cancer and other diseases which respond better to treatment when caught in their earliest stages.
- Heart Disease
Like people, heart disease can be a problem for geriatric pets.
Senior dogs can suffer from congestive heart failure, which happens when the heart pumps blood inefficiently, causing fluid to back up in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
While heart disease is seen less in cats than in dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is relatively common. This condition causes the walls of a cat’s heart to thicken, decreasing the heart’s ability to function efficiently.
- Blindness and hearing loss
Degeneration in the eyes and ears can lead to varying degrees of visual and hearing loss in older pets, although this is more common in dogs than in cats.
When these conditions are related to aging 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 common symptoms in cats include loss of appetite, jaundice, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst.
For dogs, liver disease 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 old.
Signs of diabetes to watch for 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. Sometimes 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 conditions
Geriatric cats and dogs with urinary tract conditions and issues with incontinence are a common sight for out West Salem vets. 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, take your geriatric dog or cat to the vet for a thorough examination.
Veterinary Care for Senior Pets
Our vets will thoroughly examine your geriatric pet, inquire about their home lives, and perform any tests needed to gain further insight into their general physical health and condition.
Based on the exam findings, we'll recommend a custom treatment plan for your senior cat or dog that could include medications, activities, and dietary changes that may help improve your pet's health, well-being, and comfort.
Pet Loss & Grief Counseling
Losing your beloved friend is the most difficult aspect of pet ownership. Our team is here to help. We offer end-of-life care for senior pets, including quality of life assessments so you can make the best decision for your companion.
We can also provide you with resources to help you cope with the grief of pet loss as well as options to memorialize your pet so you can keep their memory close.