Senior Care for Pets
Geriatric Care for Pets
Senior pets need routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis to help them maintain a good quality of life as they continue to age.
Diligent care can help extend your pet's life and good health well into their golden years, so it's important that they see the vet for regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in Novato achieve their ideal health by identifying and treating developing health issues early, and providing proactive, compassionate treatment while they can still be managed easily and effectively.
Typical Health Problems
Our companion cats and dogs are living much longer today than they have in the past, thanks to improved dietary options and better veterinary care.
While we can certainly celebrate this, 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
As your dog enters their golden years, many joint or bone disorders can cause pain and discomfort. Some of the most common bone and joint disorders in geriatric pets seen by our vets include osteochondrosis, growth plate disorders, hip dysplasia, arthritis and reduction in spinal flexibility.
To keep your dog comfortable as they continue to age, these issues must be addressed early. Treatment for joint and bone issues in senior dogs ranges from simply reducing levels of exercise to using anti-inflammatory drugs or analgesics and surgery to remove diseased tissue, reduce pain or stabilize joints.
While osteoarthritis is typically a condition seen more often in older dogs, this painful condition can also impact your senior cat's joints.
Cats will often experience more subtle symptoms of osteoarthritis than dogs do. While cats may experience a decrease in range of motion, the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats include poor grooming habits, loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, urination or defecation outside the litter pain, inability to jump on and off objects and change in general attitude. Lameness typically seen in dogs is not usually 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 cats and dogs can develop diabetes at any age, most dogs are diagnosed between 7 and 10 years of age. The majority of cats are over 6 years of age when diagnosed with diabetes.
Symptoms of diabetes in dogs and cats include cloudy eyes, weight loss accompanied by increased appetite, chronic or recurring infections and excessive thirst.
Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes in both dogs and cats.
- Kidney disease
Our pets' kidneys tend to lose their function as they age. In some cases, medications used to treat other common conditions seen in geriatric pets can caused kidney disease.
While chronic kidney disease is incurable, it can be managed with a combination of medications and diet.
- Urinary tract disease
We often treat geriatric cats and dogs with incontinence issues and urinary tract conditions. As the muscles controlling the bladder weaken, elderly pets can become prone to accidents. However, it's important to note that incontinence may be a sign of a larger health issue such as dementia or urinary tract infection.
If your senior pet is experiencing incontinence issues, it's imperative to take your geriatric dog or cat to your Novato vet for a thorough examination.
Veterinary Care for Seniors
Your senior pet will receive a thorough examination from our vets, who will ask details about their home life and conduct any testing that may be required to gain additional insight into his or her general physical condition and health.
Based on the findings, we'll recommend a treatment plan that may include dietary changes, activities and medications to help improve your senior pet's health, comfort and well-being.
Routine Wellness Exams
To help your senior pet live a happy, healthy and fulfilled life, preventive care is essential.
Wellness exams allow our veterinarians the opportunity to catch diseases early.
Early detection of disease will help preserve your pet's physical health and detect emerging health issues before they become long-term problems.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality health long-term. .