Cat & Dog Geriatric Care
For senior pets to maintain a high quality of life as they continue to get older, they require routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis during their golden years.
Proactive care has the ability to help lengthen your cat or dog's life and good health as they age, so it's essential for them to attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they appear to be healthy.
Our veterinarians are available to help the senior pets of Laguna Woods achieve optimal health by diagnosing and treating arising health problems early, and providing quick treatment options while the conditions can still effectively and easily be managed.
Typical Health Problems
Because of the improved dietary options and higher quality of veterinary care, companion cats' and dogs' life expectancies are far longer today than they have been before.
While this is news to celebrate, pet owners and veterinarians are now encountering more age-related conditions than they did in previous years as well.
Senior pets are usually more prone to these conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As your pup enters its golden years, there are several joint or bone disorders that could cause them pain and discomfort. A few of the more common joint and bone disorders in geriatric pets that our veterinarians see include reduction in spinal flexibility, arthritis, osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, and growth plate disorders.
Having these issues addressed early is important for keeping your pooch comfortable as they continue to get older. Treatments for joint and bone conditions in senior dogs can range from just reducing their amount of exercise, to the use of analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, to surgery to remove diseased tissue, stabilize joints or alleviate pain.
While osteoarthritis is generally a condition associated with older dogs, this painful issue can also impact the joints of your senior cat.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats are more subtle than those in dogs. While cats can suffer from a decrease in their range of motion the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats are loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, change in general attitude, poor grooming habits, urination or defecation outside the litter pan, and inability to jump on and off objects. Lameness often displayed by 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.
Taking your geriatric pet to the vet for routine checkups even when they look healthy lets your veterinarian examine them for early signs of cancer and other diseases that respond better to treatment when detected in their earliest stages.
- Heart Disease
Similar to humans, heart disease can be problematic for older cats and dogs.
Senior dogs often suffer from congestive heart failure, which develops when the heart isn't pumping blood efficiently, leading to a backup of fluid in the heart, lungs, and chest cavity.
While heart disease isn't seen as often in cats, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is fairly 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 problems are age-related they can develop slowly, giving senior cats and dogs time to adjust their behavior, which makes it hard for pet owners to detect.
- Liver disease
In senior cats, liver disease is common and can be caused by high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of liver disease in cats include jaundice, loss of appetite, increased thirst, drooling, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Liver disease in dogs can lead to a number of serious symptoms such as seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, and weight loss.
If your senior cat or dog is showing any symptoms of liver disease, it's very important that they receive veterinary care.
Even though cats and dogs can develop diabetes at any stage of their lives, the majority of dogs are diagnosed at approximately 7-10 years of age, and most cats diagnosed with diabetes are over 6 years old.
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 our pets get older, their kidneys tend to lose their function. Sometimes, kidney disease can be caused by medications used to treat other common conditions seen in geriatric pets.
While chronic kidney disease can't be cured, it can be managed with a combination of diet and medications.
- Urinary tract disease
Our Laguna Woods 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
Our vets will perform a comprehensive examination for your senior pet, ask for details about their home life and implement any tests that might be needed to get additional insight into your companion's general physical health and condition.
Depending on what your vet finds, we will recommend a treatment plan that could include medications, activities, and dietary changes that might help improve the health, well-being, and comfort of your elderly cat or dog.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care plays an important part in helping your senior pet live a fulfilled, happy, and healthy life. It also provides our vets with the chance to find any diseases early.
Early detection of disease will help preserve your pet's physical health and detect arising health problems before they turn into long-term issues.
With regular physical examinations, your cat or dog will receive their best chance at quality long-term health.
Most people find that decision-making is difficult during a time of loss. A decision concerning euthanasia may be one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make for your pet. Although a personal decision, it doesn't have to be a solitary one. Your veterinarian, family, and close friends can help you make the right choice.
By making arrangements in advance, you are able to achieve peace and focus on what matters most—your beloved companion. We offer two different settings for saying goodbye to your pet.