Geriatric Veterinary Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
To help them maintain a good quality of life as they continue to age, senior pets need routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis throughout their golden years.
Diligent care can help extend your pet's life and good health as they age, so they must attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in Hattiesburg and Petal achieve optimal health by identifying and treating emerging health issues early and providing proactive treatment while they can still be effectively and easily managed.
Typical Health Problems
Due to improved dietary options and better veterinary care, companion cats and dogs are living far longer today than they have in the past.
While this is certainly something to be celebrated, pet owners and veterinarians are now dealing with more age-related conditions than in the past.
Senior pets are typically prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your dog ages, there are a variety of joint and bone disorders that can cause pain and discomfort. Arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, decreased spinal flexibility, and growth plate disorders are some of the most common joint and bone disorders seen in geriatric pets by our veterinarians.
Addressing these issues early is essential for keeping your dog comfortable as they continue to age. Treatment for joint and bone issues in senior dogs ranges from simply reducing levels of exercise, to the use of analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, to surgery to remove diseased tissue, stabilize joints or reduce pain.
While osteoarthritis is typically a condition we think of in older dogs, this painful condition can also affect your senior cat's joints.
Cats' osteoarthritis symptoms are more subtle than those of dogs. While cats' range of motion may be reduced, the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats are 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. Cat owners are less likely to report lameness than dog owners.
It is believed that approximately 50% of all pets in the US die from cancers. That's why your senior pet needs to visit the vet for routine wellness exams as they age.
Bringing your geriatric pet in for routine checkups, even if they appear healthy, allows your veterinarian to look for early signs of cancer and other diseases that respond better to treatment if caught early.
- 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 affects cats less than dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is fairly common. The walls of a cat's heart thicken as a result of this condition, reducing the heart's ability to function efficiently.
- Blindness and hearing loss
Degeneration of the eyes and ears in older pets can result in varying degrees of deafness and blindness, though 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
Liver disease is common in senior cats and can be caused by high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism. Loss of appetite, jaundice, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and increased thirst are all symptoms of liver disease in cats.
Liver disease in dogs can cause several 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, the majority of dogs are diagnosed between the ages of 7 and 10 years old, and the majority of cats diagnosed with diabetes are over the age of 6.
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
The kidneys of pets tend to fail as they age. In some cases, 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 diet and medications.
- Urinary tract disease
Our Hattiesburg and Petal veterinarians frequently see geriatric cats and dogs with urinary tract disorders and incontinence issues. Elderly pets are more prone to accidents as the muscles controlling the bladder weaken, but incontinence can also be a sign of a larger health problem, 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
Our veterinarians will thoroughly examine your senior pet, ask detailed questions about their home life, and perform any tests that may be necessary to gain additional insight into his or her general physical health and condition.
Based on the findings, we'll recommend a treatment plan that can potentially include medications, activities, and dietary changes that may help improve your senior pet's health, well-being, and comfort.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is essential to helping your senior pet live a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life. It also allows our veterinarians to detect diseases early.
Early disease detection will help preserve your pet's physical health and detect emerging health issues before they become long-term issues. Regular physical examinations will give your pet the best chance for long-term health.