Senior Care for Pets
Proactive Senior Pet Care
Maintaining a good quality of life and optimal health are the main goals when caring for senior pets. Routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis are critical in accomplishing these goals.
Diligent veterinary care can help extend your pet's life and good health as they age. This is why regularly scheduled wellness exams are so important. A complete examination will involve dental, visual, and cardiac evaluation, as well as inspection for skin growths, ear infections, and old age arthritis.
There are both holistic and mainstream prescription approaches to dealing with older age arthritis. We don't hesitate to offer holistic care as well as cold laser therapy and acupuncture and specialty care referrals when our seniors are in need.
At Voorhees Veterinary Center, our veterinarians are here to help senior pets maintain optimal health by identifying and treating emerging health issues and providing proactive treatment before any concerns have time to progress.
Typical Health Problems
Although pets are typically considered seniors at 10 years old, improved dietary options and better veterinary care are allowing companion cats and dogs to living far longer today than they have in the past.
While this is certainly something to be celebrated, pet owners and veterinarians now face more age-related conditions than they did in the past as a result. Senior pets are prone to the following conditions:
Joint & Bone disorders
As your canine companion surpasses middle age, there are a number of joint or bone disorders that can begin to develop, resulting in pain and discomfort. Some of the most common joint and bone disorders in older dogs include arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, reduction in spinal flexibility, and growth plate disorders.
Addressing these issues early is essential when it comes to 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 the joints of older cats.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats tend to be more subtle than those in dogs. While our feline friends can experience a decrease in range of motion, the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in older cats include weight loss, loss of appetite, depression, change in general attitude, poor grooming habits, urination or defecation outside the litter tray, and inability to jump on and off objects. Lameness typically seen in dogs is not commonly reported by cat parents.
It is believed that approximately 50% of all pets in the US die from cancers. That's why it's important for your pet to see their veterinarian for routine wellness exams as they age.
Bringing your older pet in for routine checkups, even when they seem healthy, provides your veterinarian with an opportunity to examine them for early signs of cancer and other diseases that respond better to treatment when caught in their earliest stages.
Heart diseases are as much of a problem for aging pets as they are for people as we grow older.
As dogs move into their golden years the risk of congestive heart failure increases. This common condition occurs when the heart stops pumping blood efficiently, causing fluid to back up in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
Although 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 & 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.
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.
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 Voorhees vets often see older cats and dogs suffering from urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues. Our elderly four-legged family members 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 dog or cat is experiencing incontinence issues, it's important to take them to your veterinarian for a thorough examination.
Routine Exams for Aging Pets
When you bring your senior dog or cat in for a routine exam, your veterinarian will thoroughly examine them for signs of developing health concerns. They will also ask about your pet's home life in detail and perform any tests that may be required to receive additional insight into their overall physical health and condition.
Based on the findings from your pet's exam and testing, our team will create a treatment plan to address any existing health problems and minimize the impact of developing age-related conditions such as deteriorating eyesight and joint pain.
Treatment plans for senior pets typically take a multifaceted approach that can include medications, activities, dietary changes, and therapies such as acupuncture or cold laser treatment to help improve your senior pet's health and comfort.
Proactive care, including twice yearly checkups, plays an essential role in helping your senior cat or dog live a healthy and fulfilled life. It also gives your vet the opportunity to monitor your pet's health and spot health concerns early.
Early detection of disease means treatment can begin before the condition becomes more severe, allowing your vet to manage your pet's symptoms and slow the progression of conditions that cannot be effectively cured.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.