To maintain a good quality of life as they continue to age, it is important that senior pets receive routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnoses from their veterinarians.
Diligent care can help extend your pet's life and good health as they age, so it's important that they attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in San Diego achieve optimal health by identifying and treating potential health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while they can still be easily and effectively dealt with.
Due to improved dietary options and better veterinary care, companion cats and dogs are living far longer today than they have in the past.
Despite this certainly being something to celebrate, pet owners and veterinarians now face more age-related conditions than they did in the past as well.
Senior pets are typically prone to the following conditions:
As your dog ages, there are a number of joint or bone disorders that can result in pain and discomfort. Some of the most common joint and bone disorders in geriatric pets that our veterinarians see include arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, reduction in spinal flexibility, and growth plate disorders.
Addressing these issues early is essential for keeping your dog comfortable as they reach their golden years. 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.
Although osteoarthritis is typically a condition associated with 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. 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 box, and inability to jump on and off objects. The 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. This sad statistic is why it's so 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 that respond better to treatment when caught as early as possible.
Geriatric pets can suffer from heart disease, just like humans.
Senior dogs commonly suffer from congestive heart failure, which occurs when the heart isn't pumping blood efficiently. This serious condition can cause 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. HCM is a condition that causes the thickening of the walls of a cat's heart, which decreases the heart’s ability to function efficiently.
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 related to natural aging, they may progress slowly. This allows geriatric pets to adapt to this change, making it difficult for pet owners to notice.
Liver disease is common in senior cats 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.
In dogs, liver disease can lead to 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 stage of life, 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.
Signs 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.
If your pet is diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, it can be managed with a combination of diet and medications.
Our San Diego vets often see geriatric cats and dogs with urinary tract conditions and incontinence issues. Elderly pets can be prone to accidents as the natural consequence of weakening bladder muscles, 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 them to the vet for a thorough examination.
Our vets will thoroughly examine your senior pet, ask you about their home life in detail and perform any tests that may be required to learn more about their general physical health and condition.
Based on the findings, we'll recommend a wellness and treatment plan that can potentially include medications, activities, and dietary changes that may help improve your senior pet's health, well-being, and comfort.
Preventive care is essential to helping your senior pet live out their golden years in good health and wellbeing. It also gives our veterinarians the opportunity to detect diseases early, when they are more treatable.
Early detection of disease will help preserve your pet's physical health and catch emerging health issues before they develop into more serious long-term problems.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.
College Animal Hospital is happy to welcome new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of San Diego pets. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.