Geriatric Veterinary Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
As they enter their golden years, routine preventative veterinary care and early diagnosis become critical to helping our senior pets maintain health and good quality of life.
With diligent care, we can help extend your pet's life and good health. This is why it's important that they attend regularly scheduled routine exams, even if they seem healthy.
Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets from across Boulder County achieve ideal health by identifying and treating emerging 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 far longer today than they have in the past, in large part thanks to improved dietary options and better veterinary care.
While we can certainly celebrate this progress, 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 ages, many joint or bone disorders can impact their system and lead to pain and discomfort. some of the most common joint and bone disorders in geriatric pets that our veterinarians often see include growth plate disorders, arthritis, reduction in spinal flexibility, hip dysplasia, and osteochondrosis.
It's essential to address these issues early so your dog can stay comfortable as they enter 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.
While osteoarthritis is more typically seen in older dogs, senior cats can also suffer from this painful condition.
Cats often display more subtle symptoms of osteoarthritis than dogs. While cats may experience a decrease in range of motion, the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats include loss of appetite, change in general attitude, depression, weight loss, urination or defecation outside the litter pain, poor grooming habits, and inability to jump on and off objects. While lameness is typically found in dogs, it's not commonly reported by cat owners.
It's believed that about 50% of all pets in the United States die from cancers. Therefore, it's imperative that your senior pet see the vet for routine exams as they age.
Booking your geriatric pet in for routine checkups even when they seem healthy allows your veterinarian to check for early signs of cancer and other diseases that respond better to treatment when caught in their earliest stages.
- Heart Disease
Similar to people, geriatric pets can suffer from heart disease.
It's common for senior dogs to suffer from congestive heart failure, which occurs if the heart isn't pumping blood efficiently. This causes fluid to build up in the lungs, heart and chest cavity.
While fewer cats suffer from heart disease than dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is relatively common. This condition causes the walls of a cat’s heart to thicken, reducing 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 Boulder County 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 give your senior pet a thorough examination, inquire about their life at home in detail and perform tests that may be needed to gain additional insight into his or her general physical health and condition.
Based on our findings, the vet will recommend a treatment plan that may include activities, dietary changes and medications to help improve your senior pet's health, comfort and well-being.
Routine Wellness Exams
Preventative care is critical to helping your senior pet live a happy, healthy and fulfilled life. It also gives our veterinarians the chance to detect diseases early.
With early detection of disease, we can help preserve your senior pet's health and catch developing health issues before they cause long-term problems.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.