Senior Feline Care
Cats can live an astonishingly long time — the record is 38 years — but there’s no guarantee that those extra years will be healthy ones. If your cat is getting up in years, you need to be aware of the special health and wellness challenges that older cats face. Here at Lakeview Animal Hospital, our skilled veterinary team can provide senior feline care services, from regular wellness checks to treatment of age-related diseases, to help your cat enjoy this stage of his life.
Cats generally make the transition from middle-aged to geriatric between ages seven to ten. During this period, the metabolism may slow down, aches and pains may develop and other age-related issues may manifest themselves. These may include weight loss and reduced appetite (possibly due to a faltering sense of smell) or, on the other side of the scale, obesity caused by arthritic joints that discourage activity. Older cats are at increased risk for heart disease, kidney failure, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. They’re also vulnerable to dental problems; in addition to periodontal disease and tooth damage, your senior cat may suffer from an odd condition known as tooth resorption, an erosion of the enamel below the gum line.
In addition to physical problems, a senior feline may exhibit behavioral changes. While most cats try to hide any sign that they’re in pain, senior cats afflicted with chronic pain conditions may display aggression. Incontinence may also appear due to a physical problem, or it may be related to dementia.
Senior Canine Care
The age at which your dog is considered to be a “senior” varies depending on your dog’s weight and breed. Larger breed dogs (50 pounds or more) tend to have shorter life spans and may be considered to be geriatric by the age of seven or eight. Small to medium-sized dogs live longer and are not considered geriatric until age nine or ten. On average, a typical lifespan may be between eight to twelve years, although some dogs can live longer or shorter lives. Nutrition, weight management, regular exercise and proactive veterinary care all play a role in helping dogs lead a long, active and healthy life.
Once your dog enters his golden years, our veterinarian recommends semi-annual exams to monitor your pet’s overall health. These exams will include a full physical, fecal sample screening, and diagnostic blood work. Since most dogs are experts at hiding the symptoms of illness, a full blood chemistry panel gives our veterinarian a “snapshot” of your pet’s internal health. Changes in white blood cell count or platelet counts could be indicative of a possible disease. The earlier we are able to detect these changes, the more our team can do to provide proactive treatment. Additionally, since an older dog’s immune system is not as strong as a younger dog, it cannot fight off diseases or heal as faster as a young pet can. Consequently, consistent parasite control and disease prevention through vaccination boosters is absolutely critical for your dog’s long-term health.
Diet and nutrition are two primary areas of concern for senior dogs. Older dogs often require foods that are more readily digestible and have lower calorie levels and anti-aging nutrients. Weight gain is common in older dogs, especially due to decreased activity level. Weight gain can lead to additional health problems, including increased risk for heart disease and diabetes. Dogs that are overweight or obese may also experience more mobility difficulties and increased joint pain due to the greater pressure on their joints. If your dog has recently gained weight, our veterinarian can create a custom weight loss plan that ensures your dog receives a balanced diet and the right nutrients for individual needs.