Maintaining optimal health, good quality of life, and comfortable mobility are three top priorities when it comes to caring for senior pets. This is why routine preventive care and early diagnosis of developing conditions are essential for pets as they age.
Diligent care can help extend your pet's life and good health throughout their senior years, so it's important that they attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they appear healthy.
Our veterinarians can help your senior pet achieve optimal health by identifying and treating emerging health issues early, and providing proactive treatment in the early stages when conditions are most easily managed.
Improvements in nutrition and advances in veterinary science mean that our cherished pets are enjoying increased longevity, living much longer than in the past.
While this is certainly something to be celebrated, pet owners and veterinarians now face the challenge of managing the age-related conditions that come along with advanced age.
Some of the conditions we commonly see in elderly pets include:
As your dog reaches their golden years, 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 continue to age. 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 typically a condition we think of in 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. While cats can experience a decrease in range of motion 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 pan, and inability to jump on and off objects. Lameness typically seen in dogs is not commonly reported by cat owners.
It is believed that approximately 50% of all pets 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.
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.
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 behaviour and making it difficult for pet owners to notice.
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.
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.
Our Saint John 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.
Our team will thoroughly examine your senior pet and ask about their diet and lifestyle. Testing may be recommended to gain additional insight into your pet's overall health.
Once your pet has been fully assessed our team will recommend a treatment plan to address any existing health concerns and proactively help with potential age related issues.
Recommendations may include changes to your pet's diet or exercise routine as well as medications to help your senior pet stay happy and comfortable.
Regular examinations for senior pets provide our veterinarians with the opportunity to detect developing conditions early.
Early detection allows treatment to begin when the condition is most easily managed. Often helping to slow or stop the progression of the disease.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have their best chance of achieving quality long-term health.
Saint John Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our veterinarians are passionate about the health of Saint John companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.