Senior Care for Pets
Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
As they continue to age, senior dogs and cats need routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis to help them maintain a good quality of life.
Diligent care can help extend your pet's life and good health as they age, so it's essential for them to attend regularly scheduled routine exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians can help geriatric pets in Clackamas achieve ideal health by identifying and treating emerging health issues early, then providing proactive treatment while we can still effectively and easily manage them.
Typical Health Problems
Today, our companion cats and dogs are living far longer than they have in the past. This can be attributed largely to better veterinary care and improved dietary options.
While this is certainly a fact to be celebrated, pet owners and veterinarians now also face more age-related conditions than they did in the past.
Senior pets are typically prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
Dogs can face numerous joint or bone that can lead to pain or discomfort as they reach their golden years. Some of the most common joint and bone disorders seen by our veterinarians in geriatric pets include osteochondrosis, arthritis, hip dysplasia, growth plate disorders and reduction in spinal flexibility.
It's essential to address these issues early to keep your dog comfortable as they continue to age. Treatment options for joint and bone issues in senior dogs ranges from reducing levels of exercise to using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, to surgery to reduce pain, stabilize joints and remove diseased tissue.
While we typically think of osteoarthritis as impacting older dogs, this painful condition can also afflict your senior cat's joints.
In cats, symptoms of osteoarthritis 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 poor grooming habits, depression, weight loss, inability to jump on and off objects, urination or defecation outside the litter pan, loss of appetite and change in general attitude. Typically, lameness that appears in dogs is not commonly reported by cat owners.
It is believed that approximately 50% of all pets in the US die from cancers. That's why it's important for your senior pet to visit the vet for routine wellness 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 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 commonly suffer from congestive heart failure, which occurs when the heart isn't pumping 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
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.
While dogs and cats can develop diabetes at any age, most dogs are diagnosed at about 7 to 10 years of age. The majority of cats diagnosed with diabetes are over 6 years of age.
Symptoms of diabetes in cats and dogs include increased appetite accompanied by weight loss, chronic or recurring infections, cloudy eyes and excessive thirst.
Both dogs and cats that are obese are at risk for diabetes.
- Kidney disease
Our pets' kidneys tend to lose function as they age. In some cases, some medications used to treat other common conditions in geriatric pets can cause kidney disease.
While chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, it can be managed with a combination of medications and diet.
- Urinary tract disease
Our vets in Clackamas often see geriatric cats and dogs with urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues. As the muscles that control the bladder weaken, elderly pets can be prone to accidents. That said, it's important to note that incontinence can indicate a bigger health issue such as a urinary tract infection or dementia.
If your senior pet is experiencing incontinence issues, it's imperative to take your geriatric dog or cat to the vet for a thorough examination.
Veterinary Care for Seniors
Our vets will thoroughly examine your senior pet and perform any tests that may be needed. We will also ask about their home life in detail to gain additional insight into his or her general physical health and condition.
Based on our findings, we will recommend a treatment plan that may include medications, dietary changes and activities to help improve your senior pet's health, comfort and well-being.
Preventive care is critical to helping your senior pet live a healthy, happy and fulfilled life. It also allows our veterinarians the chance to detect diseases early.
Early detection of disease will help sustain 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.