Helping Dogs & Cats Age Comfortably
Most cats and dogs begin to show signs of aging between 6-8 years old, with dogs being considered seniors at 7 years old and cats at 10 years old.
Senior dogs are much more susceptible to illness and disease than younger dogs. They need extra care and attention. Helping your companion animal maintain a good quality of life as they reach old age is one of our top priorities. Routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis can keep your cat or dog feeling their best during their golden years.
In many cases, diligent care can even help extend a cherished companion's life and good health as they enter their senior years. This is why it's important that they attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they appear healthy. We recommend visits at least twice a year for senior cats and dogs, with frequent visits if your cat or dog has serious health issues.
Nutritional requirements for senior cats and dogs shifts as they age. Our team can recommend specific diets for your cat or dog's individual physical needs.
Health Problems in Senior Cats & Dogs
Improvements in nutrition and advances in veterinary science mean that our furry family members are enjoying increased longevity, living much longer than in the past.
While seeing your dog or cat reach seniorhood is certainly a blessing, it can be difficult to witness them start to slow down a little.
Some of the conditions we commonly see in elderly cats and dogs include:
Joint or Bone Disorders
As your dog reaches their senior 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.
Detecting and diagnosing diseases early on during their evolution is essential for keeping your canine companion comfortable as they continue to age. Treatment for joint and bone issues in elderly dogs ranges from simply reducing levels of exercise to using analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs and undergoing 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 our feline friends 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.
The sad reality is that nearly half of cats and dogs over the age of 10 will develop some form of cancer in their lives. That's why it is important that you bring your senior companion to the veterinarian for routine checkups.
By bringing your dog or cat in for regular veterinary care, you allow the veterinarian the opportunity to detect early signs of cancer. This is beneficial because the sooner treatment can begin, the more likely your dog or cat will have a positive outcome.
Heart disease poses a very real problem for senior dogs and cats. The most common form of heart disease that the vets at our Maple Ridge clinic diagnose is valvular disease, which primarily affects senior dogs.
Luckily, heart disease is seen far less in our feline friends. However, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is something that older cats should be monitored for.
Blindness & Hearing Loss
Degeneration in the eyes and ears can lead to varying degrees of deafness and blindness in older pets, particularly our canine companions.
Hearing and vision loss often come on slowly, allowing aging pets to adjust their behaviour and making it difficult for pet parents to notice.
Liver disease is a common condition in elderly cats and may be the result of high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism. Signs that a cat has liver disease can vary and include loss of appetite, jaundice, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst.
In dogs, symptoms such as seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, and weight loss can be a sign of liver disease.
If your four-legged friend is displaying any symptoms of liver disease, veterinary care is essential.
Although dogs and cats can develop diabetes at any age, most cases of diabetes occur in middle-aged dogs and middle aged to older cats.
Diabetes usually require lifelong treatment with special diets and regimen. Symptoms of diabetes in dogs and cats include excessive thirst, increased appetite accompanied by weight loss, cloudy eyes, and chronic or recurring infections.
Kidney function tends to decline as cats and dogs age. That said, in some cases, medications used to treat other conditions in older dogs and cats can lead to kidney problems.
Chronic kidney disease is a very common disease among senior cats and dogs. While chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, it can often be managed with a prescription diet and medications.
Urinary Tract Disease
Urinary tract disease is a relatively common condition in dogs and cats; however, they are most commonly seen in senior dogs. This disease can be the result of an isolated infection, or something more serious like a recurring issue.
Bloody urine, difficulty urinating, and licking of the area are all signs your dog might have a urinary tract disease.
It is important to recognize symptoms early and to talk with your veterinarian as soon as possible. If your cat or dog experiences a greater need to urinate, contact us right away.
Veterinary Care for Older Cats & Dogs
Our team will thoroughly examine your senior companion and ask about their diet and lifestyle. Testing may be recommended to gain further insight into their overall health.
Once a full health assessment has been completed, your veterinarian will recommend a treatment plan to address any existing health concerns and proactively address potential age-related issues.
Recommendations may include changes to your dog or cat's diet or exercise routine, as well as medications to help your four-legged friend stay happy and comfortable.
Physicals For Senior Dogs & Cats
Regularly scheduled examinations for elderly dogs and cats provide our veterinarians with the opportunity to detect developing conditions in the earliest stages.
The early detection of developing health concerns allows treatment to begin when the condition is most easily managed. This can help slow or stop the progression of dangerous or deadly diseases.
With regular physical examinations, your furry family member will have their best chance of achieving quality long-term health.