Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats
To help your pet maintain a good quality of life as they continue to age, our senior pets require routine preventative care and early diagnosis all throughout their senior years.
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 vets are here to help your Los Angeles senior pet to achieve their optimal health by both identifying health issues as they emerge and treating them proactively while they are still easily managed.
Typical Health Problems
Because of improvements in nutritional options and veterinary care for our four-legged friends, our companion cats and dogs are now living far longer than they ever have in the past.
And while this is something worth celebrating, pet owners and vets now also face far more age-related conditions than they have in the past too.
Our veterinarians provide geriatric care in Los Angeles and the nearby area for the following common conditions:
- Joint or bone disorders
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 health issues early is essential to keeping your dog healthy and comfortable as they continue to age. Treatments for these joint and bone issues in senior dogs range from reduced levels of exercise and specialized diets to the use of anti-inflammatory medications or surgeries.
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 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 senior pet in for a routine checkup when they seem otherwise healthy allows our vets to examine them for the early signs of cancer or any other disease that responds best to treatment in its 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
The degeneration of the ears and eyes can cause varying degrees of blindness and deafness in pets as they age. These conditions are more common in dogs than they are in cats though.
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.
In dogs, liver disease can cause a number of quite serious symptoms, including vomiting, fever, jaundice, diarrhea, weight loss and the buildup of fluid in the abdomen.
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 our pets age, their kidneys tend to lose some of their function. In some cases as well, certain medications used to treat other medical conditions may incite the start of kidney disease too.
While chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, it can be managed with a combination of diet and medications.
- Urinary tract disease
Our Los Angeles 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 provide your senior pet with a comprehensive physical exam, ask you about their home life and daily nutrition and perform any further testing that may be required to gain a total picture of their general health and condition.
Based on the findings, we'll recommend a treatment plan that can potentially include medications, activities and dietary changes that may 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.
The early detection of diseases and health issues in your senior pet is critical to preserving their health and well-being as they continue to age, nipping problems in the bud before they grow to more advanced issues.
With regular physical examinations, your pet will have the best chance at quality long-term health.