Geriatric Care for Senior Pets
Our senior cats and dogs will need routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis during their golden years to maintain a good quality of life.
By providing diligent care, we can help extend your pet's life and good health as they continue to age, so it's vital that they attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in Woburn achieve and maintain ideal health by identifying and treating developing health issues early, and providing proactive treatment while they can still be easily and effectively managed.
Typical Health Problems
Our companion cats and dogs are living much longer today than they have in the past, due to improved dietary options and better veterinary care.
While we can certainly celebrate this fact, pet owners and their 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 enters their golden years, he or she may experience a number of bone or joint disorders that can lead to pain and discomfort. Some of the most common bone and joint disorders that our veterinarians diagnose in geriatric pets include osteochondrosis, hip dysplasia, arthritis, growth plate disorders and reduction in spinal flexibility.
While we typically think of osteoarthritis as a condition that's diagnosed in older dogs, this painful condition can also impact your senior cat's joints.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats are more subtle than those in dogs. While cats may experience a decrease in range of motion, the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats we see include loss of appetite, change in general attitude, poor grooming habits, weight loss, depression, inability to jump on and off objects, and urination or defecation outside the litter pain. Typically, lameness that we would see 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 Woburn 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 vet, who will ask about their home life in detail and perform any tests they may need so we can gain additional insight into his or her general physical health and condition.
Based on our findings, we'll create a treatment plan that may include activities, medications and dietary changes that can help improve your senior pet's health, comfort and well-being.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventive care is essential to helping your senior pet live a healthy, happy and fulfilled life. It also gives our veterinarians the opportunity to detect diseases early.
Early detection of disease will help preserve your pet's physical health and catch emerging health issues before they develop into long-term problems.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.