Older Cat & Elderly Dog Care
Did you know that every year you age, your pet essentially ages 3 to 4 years? By the time elderly dogs or cats show symptoms of disease, organ damage can be in advanced stages. Studies show that as many as 23% of elderly dogs and 17% of senior cats who appear healthy actually have an underlying disease. By detecting and treating diseases such as chronic kidney disease in dogs or diabetes in older cats before they become symptomatic, we can extend and improve their quality of life while in the prime of their life and beyond, into their senior years. Our lovable pets make life here in Springfield, MO all the sweeter, so our veterinarians do all we can to keep elderly patients around, healthy, and happy for as long as possible.
CHRONIC DISEASE SCREENING FOR ELDERLY DOGS & CATS
To detect chronic diseases in dogs and cats while conditions are still in the early stages, Deerfield Veterinary Hospital recommends senior blood testing as part of your pet’s yearly physical examination beginning at 6 years of age. Blood testing can detect dangerous diseases such as diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, and chronic kidney disease in dogs and cats. Blood testing can also provide a baseline prior to a surgical procedure or for comparison in the event of an illness or when a veterinarian must administer long-term medication.
CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE IN DOGS & CATS
While it is not necessarily a more common condition, Deerfield veterinarians have found clients often ask about chronic kidney disease in dogs and chronic kidney disease in cats as their pets age. For both dogs and cats, symptoms of kidney disease can include drinking more often, urinating more often, housetraining changes, and weight loss. Unfortunately, kidney disease can result in failure of one or both kidneys. Chronic kidney disease cannot be reversed, but there are medications and diets that can manage the effects and discomfort for your pet in some cases. Because life-threatening conditions like chronic kidney disease can go undetected until symptoms escalate, we have developed elderly dog care and cat care plans featuring preventive measures such as screening blood testing.
COMMON DISEASES IN OLDER PETS
Other common diseases we see in middle-aged and elderly dogs and cats are arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disorders, cancer, and dental disease. Stiffness or difficulty rising after periods of rest, difficulty jumping, shorter walks, or difficulty navigating stairs can all be signs of arthritis. Our full-service veterinary hospital is equipped with digital X-rays, which we use to check your pet for arthritis. Deerfield vets can prescribe medications to help alleviate the arthritis symptoms.
Signs of heart disease can manifest as a change in activity level or behavior, exercise intolerance, and increased coughing. Like symptoms of chronic kidney disease, older pets with diabetes may drink more often, urinate more often, experience housetraining difficulties, and suffer weight loss. Thyroid disorders can cause a change in eating habits, weight gain or weight loss, lethargy, and hair coat changes.
DENTAL DISEASE IN OLDER CATS & DOGS
At just 3 years old, most dogs and cats show signs of dental disease. Nearly 80% of elderly dogs and nearly 70% of older cats endure dental disease. Chronic inflammation from the bacterial flora in the oral cavity of a pet with dental disease leaves it at risk for systemic disease of the heart, lungs, and kidneys. Signs of dental disease include bad breath, red gums, tartar build up, loose teeth, excessive drooling, chewing habit changes, pawing at the mouth, or weight loss. Fortunately, a thorough dental cleaning and periodontal therapy can improve your pet’s oral health and decrease its risk of systemic disease.
So what can loving pet owners do to help prevent the onset of chronic diseases in older dogs and cats? In addition to regular preventive care visits, you can promote overall health simply by brushing your pet’s teeth!
CHRONIC DISEASE MANAGEMENT FOR YOUR ELDERLY PET
Many chronic diseases can have overlapping, generalized symptoms. In some cases, blood work is the only way to determine what is causing your pet’s clinical signs. Armed with the knowledge of exactly what is afflicting your loved one, we can control and manage many diseases with medications that can greatly improve your pet’s daily quality of life while extending his or her life. If your middle-aged or geriatric pets are showing any of these signs, please consider screening them with senior blood panels.