Senior and geriatric care
For most pets, seven is the magic age when our companions move from adulthood to the senior stage of life. This simply means that we must pay a bit more attention to the subtle messages they are sending us about their health. Being more aware of the changes in your pets can prolong the years they spend with you as well as extending their quality of life. You can see your pet's estimated human age equivalent in the chart below.
As our pets age, they develop conditions and diseases that can often be managed with diet and nutritional supplements. Many can be controlled or helped with simple medications that greatly improve our pets' quality of life.
As part of our increased vigilance to uncover any conditions brought on by advancing age, we recommend routine bloodwork consisting of a complete blood count, blood chemistries, and a urinalysis to determine if there is any early disease affecting your pet's health. Depending on your pet's breed and size, we may also recommend such procedures as radiographs to better define the advancement of arthritis in your pet, eye pressure measurements to detect glaucoma, and more advanced blood testing depending on your pet's living conditions.
Call us today to start a senior care program for your pet! Please click on the headings below to learn about common problems often found in senior pet patients:
|age (yrs)||weight (lbs)|
Common senior pet problems
A heart murmur is a common sign of the heart becoming less efficient. Heart murmurs often develop with age and can occur for to a variety of reasons. Fortunately, with the help of modern diagnostic tools and medications, the harmful progression of a heart murmur can be slowed. Most often early heart murmurs indicate early heart disease, the progression of which may be slowed by early medical intervention. Symptoms of heart disease include symptoms such as coughing, excessive panting, bloating, fainting, or even lethargy. When addressed, most animals with heart murmurs live long normal lives.
Renal (kidney) disease is a very common problem noted in older pets, especially cats. Its most common symptoms are increased thirst and urination and eventually weight loss. Often the signs of renal disease aren't evident until it has progressed toward kidney failure. Fortunately, with proper testing, we can diagnose early renal disease before symptoms develop with a simple blood test and urinalysis. When found early, the progression of renal disease can be slowed by a simple diet change.
The most common condition experienced by aging animals is excessive weight gain. As our companions' bodies age, exercise and activity levels are often decreased due to other diseases. This often leads to unnecessary and excessive weight gain. Many times, diets can be adjusted to compensate for reduced activity levels. Sometimes, it's as simple as switching from an adult maintenance diet to a geriatric formulation. Geriatric diets are typically made with less fat and less calories. In the event an animal becomes overweight, there are special prescription diets designed to actually take the weight off your animal without drastically reducing the quantity of food consumed. The most common problems we see develop in obese animals are diabetes, osteoarthritis, difficulty moving, adverse effects to anesthesia, cardiovascular disease, and reduced life expectancy. Therefore, preventing animals from carrying around unneeded weight is an easy way to improve and extend your companions' quality of life.
With increased age, stiffness in joints, slowness to get up, and even limping can become apparent in your pets. Often these conditions are symptoms of arthritis that your animal companion is counting on you to recognize. In the past, arthritis would cause such discomfort to animals that surgery, large doses of steroids with harmful side effects, or euthanasia were the only humane choices. Fortunately there are now a variety of safe products that can provide a great deal of relief for your pets. Usually treatment can be started with a supplement such as Cosequin, but with advanced arthritis we offer a variety of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) which provide excellent pain relief to our arthritic pets. These amazing products are safer than our choices of the past and can be administered once to twice a day to help your companion feel like a puppy again.
Unlike us, our pets do not brush their teeth twice daily. As they get older, the bacterial population in their mouths increases causing plaque and tartar buildup to occur much faster. Dentistry is an important part of health care that can extend your pet's life and even make your pet more pleasurable to be around. Plaque and tartar buildup on your pet's teeth and under the gum line are continuous processes that lead to bad breath, tooth loss, and even heart, liver, and kidney disease. This happens when the bacteria in the plaque and tartar enters the bloodstream and deposits into one of the bodies major organs. A routine dental scaling program for your pet's teeth can greatly reduce the buildup of harmful bacteria contained in plaque and tartar. In our experience, most senior pets need a dental cleaning at least once yearly. This allows us to maintain healthy teeth and gums in your pets, and makes their kisses much more pleasurable!