Geriatric Care for Pets
Geriatric Care for Pets
As your senior pet continues to age, routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis become critical to helping them maintain a good quality of life as they enter their golden years.
Diligent care from our vets can help extend your pet's life and good health as they age, so it's essential that they attend regularly scheduled routine exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in the Suffolk County area achieve ideal 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
Thanks to better veterinary care and improved dietary options, our companion cats and dogs are living much longer today than they have in the past.
While we certainly celebrate this, as a result, pet owners and veterinarians now also face more age-related conditions than they did in the past.
Senior pets are typically prone to these conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
Many joint or bone disorders can cause dogs pain and discomfort in their golden years. Some of the most common joint and bone disorders in geriatric pets seen by our veterinarians include growth plate disorders, hip dysplasia, arthritis, reduction in spinal flexibility, and osteochondrosis.
Detecting these issues early and addressing them is essential for keeping your dog comfortable as they age. Treatment for joint and bone issues in senior dogs ranges from simply reducing exercise levels to using anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics, to surgery to stabilize joints, reduce pain or remove diseased tissue.
While osteoarthritis is fairly common in older dogs, your senior cat's joints can also be impacted by this painful condition.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats are more subtle than those we see 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, depression, poor grooming habits, urination or defecation outside the litter pan, inability to jump on and off objects, weight loss and change in general attitude. Though lameness is typically seen in dogs with osteoarthritis, this symptom is not commonly reported by cat owners.
It's believed that about 50% of all pets in the United States die from some form of cancer. That's why it's important for your senior pet to see the vet for routine exams as they 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 that will respond better to treatment when caught in their earliest stages.
- Heart Disease
Similar to people, geriatric pets can have heart disease.
Congestive heart failure is a common problem for senior dogs. This condition occurs when the heart does not pump blood efficiently, 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
Older pets may experience degeneration in the eyes and ears, leading to various degrees of deafness and blindness. This is more common in dogs than in cats.
While these conditions are age-related, they may occur slowly and gradually, allowing geriatric pets to adapt their behavior and often making it difficult for pet owners to notice.
- Liver disease
Liver disease is common in senior cats and may be caused by hyperthyroidism or high blood pressure. Symptoms of liver disease in cats include jaundice, vomiting, increased thirst, diarrhea and loss of appetite.
In dogs, liver disease may cause numerous serious symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, fever, seizures, weight loss, abdominal fluid buildup and jaundice.
If your geriatric dog or cat is displaying any symptoms of liver disease, it's essential to ensure they receive veterinary care.
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. 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 Suffolk County 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 vet for a thorough examination.
Veterinary Care for Seniors
Your senior pet will be thoroughly examined by the vet, who will also ask about their home life in detail and conduct any tests that may be needed to gain additional insight into his or her general physical health and condition.
Based on our findings, we'll recommend a treatment plan that may include medications, activities and dietary changes to help improve your senior pet's health, comfort and well-being.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is essential to helping your senior pet live a happy, healthy and fulfilled life. It also allows our veterinarians 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 become long-term problems.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.
New Patients Welcome
Deer Park Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Suffolk County companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.