Help your senior cat or dog feel healthy and comfortable in their old age. Bring them in for vet geriatric care from our experienced veterinarians in Zeeland.
Geriatric Dog & Cat Care
Every pet parent wants to help their four-legged friend maintain a good quality of life as they age. That's why routine preventive veterinary care is so important for senior pets.
Attentive care can help extend your pet's life and good health as they enter their golden years, so it's imperative that they attend regularly scheduled routine exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our Zeeland veterinarians are here to help your geriatric dog or cat achieve ideal health by identifying and treating developing health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while these problems can still be managed effectively and easily.
Typical Health Problems
Better veterinary care and improved dietary options have our companion dogs and cats living far longer today than they have in the past.
While this is certainly an accomplishment to be celebrated, pet owners and veterinarians are now also facing 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 ages, numerous joint or bone disorders can cause pain and discomfort. Some of the most common bone and joint disorders that our veterinarians see in geriatric pets include osteochondrosis, reduction in spinal flexibility, growth plate disorders, hip dysplasia and arthritis.
It's essential to address these issues early to keep your dog comfortable as they reach their golden years. For senior dogs, treatment for bone and joint disorders ranges from simply reducing exercise levels, using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs to surgery to stabilize joints, reduce pain or remove diseased tissue.
While osteoarthritis is typically a condition we think of in 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. While cats can experience a decrease in range of motion 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 litter pan, and inability to jump on and off objects. Lameness typically seen 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.
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 Zeeland 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 receive a thorough examination from our veterinarian, who will also ask about their home life in detail and complete any tests that may be needed to glean additional insight into his or her overall physical health and condition.
Based on test results and findings, we'll recommend a treatment plan that may include activities, dietary changes and medications to help improve your senior pet's health, comfort and well-being.
Routine Wellness Exams
With diligent preventive care, we can help your senior pet live a healthy, happy and fulfilled life. Routine exams give our veterinarians a chance to detect diseases early.
Early detection of disease will help preserve your pet's physical health and catch developing health issues before they become long-term concerns.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best opportunity for a life with quality long-term health.