Geriatric Care for Pets
In order to help them maintain a good quality of life as they get older, senior pets need routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnoses.
Diligent care can help extend your pet's life and good health as they get older, 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 Kinston achieve optimal health by identifying and treating emerging health issues early and providing proactive treatment while we can still effectively manage them.
Typical Health Problems
Due to improved dietary options and better veterinary care, pets are living far longer today than they have in the past.
While this is certainly something to be celebrated, pet owners and veterinarians now also face more age-related conditions than they previously did.
Senior pets are typically prone to the following conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
As dogs reach their golden years, there are a number of joint or bone disorders that can cause them discomfort. Some of the most common joint and bone disorders that our vets see in geriatric pets include arthritis, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis, reduced spinal flexibility and disorders of the growth plate.
Addressing these issues early is vital to keep dogs comfortable as they enter their golden years. Treatment for joint and bone issues in senior dogs can range from reducing the amount of exercise they get and using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs to performing surgery to get rid of diseased tissue, stabilize joints or reduce pain.
Osteoarthritis is a painful condition that can affect your senior cat's joints.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis in cats are more subtle than those in dogs. While cats can experience a reduced range of motion, the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats are weight loss, lack of appetite, depression, change in attitude, poor grooming, urination or defecation outside the litter pan and the inability to jump on and off objects.
Approximately 50% of all pets in the U.S. die from cancers. That's why it's important for your senior pet to visit the vet for regular checkups 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 they are still in their earliest stages.
- Heart Disease
Senior dogs commonly suffer from congestive heart failure, which occurs when the heart pumps blood inefficiently, 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, therefore decreasing the heart’s ability to function properly.
- Blindness and hearing loss
Although more common in dogs than in cats, degeneration in the eyes and ears can lead to varying degrees of deafness and blindness in older pets.
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
Liver disease is common in senior cats and can 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 build-up 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 when they are between 7 and 10 years old; most cats diagnosed with diabetes are older than 6 years.
Symptoms of diabetes in dogs and cats include excessive thirst, increased appetite coupled with weight loss, cloudy eyes, and chronic or recurring infections.
Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes in 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 in geriatric pets.
Chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, but it can be managed with a combination of diet and medication.
- Urinary tract disease
Our Kinston 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 their bladders weaken. However, it's important to note that incontinence can 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 thoroughly examine your senior pet, ask about their home life in detail and may perform tests to receive additional insight into their general health and condition.
Based on the findings, we'll recommend a treatment plan that can include medications, activities and dietary changes to help improve your senior pet's health, well-being and comfort.
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.