Our Madison vets provide comprehensive veterinary geriatrics for senior cats and dogs to help them feel comfortable and healthy in their old age.

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Geriatric Care for Senior Dogs & Cats

To help them maintain a good quality of life as they age, senior pets need routine preventive veterinary care and early diagnosis throughout their golden years.

Diligent care can help extend your pet's life and good health as they age, so they must attend regularly scheduled wellness exams, even if they seem healthy. 

Our veterinarians are here to help geriatric pets in Madison achieve optimal health by identifying and treating emerging health issues early and providing proactive treatment while they can still be managed.

Geriatric Care for Pets, Madison

Typical Health Problems

Due to improved dietary options and better veterinary care, companion cats and dogs are living far longer today than they have in the past. 

While this is certainly something to be celebrated, pet owners and veterinarians are now dealing with more age-related conditions than in the past.

Senior pets are typically prone to these conditions:

  • Joint or bone disorders

    Geriatric Dogs

    As your dog reaches their golden years, several joint or bone disorders 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 issues early is essential for keeping your dog comfortable as they continue to age. Treatment for joint and bone issues in senior dogs ranges from simply reducing levels of exercise, to the use of analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, to surgery to remove diseased tissue, stabilize joints or reduce pain.

    Geriatric Cats

    While osteoarthritis is typically a condition we think of in older dogs, this painful condition can also affect your senior cat's joints.

    Cats' osteoarthritis symptoms are more subtle than those of dogs. While cats' range of motion may be reduced, the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis in geriatric cats are 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. Cat owners are less likely to report lameness than dog owners.

  • Cancer

    It is believed that approximately 50% of all pets in the US die from cancers. That's why your senior pet needs to visit the vet for routine wellness exams as they age.

    Bringing your geriatric pet in for routine checkups even when they seem healthy allows your veterinarian to examine them for early signs of cancer and other diseases which respond better to treatment when caught in their 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 affects cats less than dogs, Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) is fairly common. The walls of a cat's heart thicken as a result of this condition, reducing the heart's ability to function efficiently.

  • Blindness and hearing loss

    Degeneration in the eyes and ears can lead to varying degrees of deafness and blindness in older pets, although this is more common in dogs than in cats.

    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.

    Liver disease in dogs can cause several serious symptoms including seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, and weight loss.

    If your geriatric dog or cat is displaying any of the symptoms of liver disease, veterinary care is essential.

  • Diabetes

    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 pets age, their kidneys tend to lose their function. In some cases, kidney disease can be caused by medications used to treat other common conditions seen in geriatric pets.

    While chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, it can be managed with a combination of diet and medications.  

  • Urinary tract disease

    Our Madison 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 veterinarians will thoroughly examine your senior pet and ask detailed questions about their home life.

We recommend that all pets over the age of 6 years have our senior bloodwork package in addition to standard diagnostics. This test will allow us to detect issues with liver and kidney disease as your companion becomes older, and more at-risk of developing serious conditions in those organs.

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 critical for your senior pet's health and happiness. It also allows our veterinarians to detect diseases earlier.

Early detection will help preserve your pet's health and catch emerging health issues before they develop into long-term problems.

With regular physical exams, your pet will have the best chance of long-term health. 

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