Veterinary Services

Pet Senior and Geriatric Care in Moneta, VA

Staunton River Vet Clinic - pet senior care

Getting Old Isn’t a Disease

Many times we think our pets are “just getting old”. Most of the time though they have treatable conditions and diseases.

We want to help you keep your pet happy and healthy for a long time. This means that your senior pet will need special care. We will provide you with the information and tools to guide you through this time in your pet’s life.

Dogs and cats that are older than seven years of age are considered seniors. This means that the aging process is starting to affect the internal organs and arthritis is starting to form in the joints. Here is a list of recommendations we feel are important for older dogs:

  1. Keep vaccinations current: as pets age they are less able to fight off disease on their own. This is a time of their life where vaccination becomes even more important. Together we can look at your pet’s lifestyle and determine which vaccines are right.
  2. Brush your cat’s fur regularly, especially if they have longer fur. This can help prevent matted fur, which can become painful, but you will also be able to spot skin infections and skin tumors that may be forming.
  3. Keep toenails clipped as short as possible. Long nails can not only alter a pet’s gait and cause pain, but they can also make it more difficult for them to walk on slick floors.
  4. Keep plenty of fresh water around and keep track of how often they are visiting that water bowl and how much water they are consuming. Dogs and cats that have increases in water consumption may have diabetes, kidney disease, Cushing’s disease (only in dogs) or a urinary tract issue.
Pet Senior and Geriatric Care
How often should I take my senior dog to the veterinarian?

We recommend that your senior pet be seen every 6 months for a check-up. However, if you notice any of the following, they should be seen more quickly:

  1. Significant increase in the amount of water being consumed each day.
  2. Significant increase in the frequency or amount of urination.
  3. Weight loss or significant weight gain.
  4. Significant decrease in appetite or not eating for more than 2 days.
  5. Significant increase in appetite.
  6. Repeated vomiting.
  7. Diarrhea.
  8. Constipation or difficulty urinating.
  9. Suddenly urinating or defecating in the home when previously well house trained.
  10. Lameness that lasts more than 2 days, or lameness that switches legs.
  11. Noticeable decrease in vision, especially if suddenly bumping into walls or furniture or you notice the pupils don’t constrict in bright light.
  12. Masses, open sores, or multiple scabs on the skin that last longer than one week.
  13. Bad breath or excessive drooling.
  14. Increases in the size of the belly.
  15. Increased amount of time spent sleeping.
  16. Hair loss.
  17. Persistent coughing or gagging.
  18. Excessive panting.
  19. Sudden collapse or bout of weakness.
  20. Inability to chew dry food.
  21. Seizure.

To help us keep your senior pet looking and feeling healthy we recommend the following services and diagnostics at least yearly:

  1. Senior blood work including a complete blood count, chemistry panel and electrolytes, thyroid hormone levels, and urinalysis. This will help us identify underlying diseases early and allow early intervention, providing us with the best shot at successful treatment. Some more common problems in older dogs that we are looking for are
    • a. Hypothyroidism (Dogs)
    • b. Hyperthyroidism (Cats)
    • c. Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease) (Dogs)
    • d. Chronic kidney disease
    • e. Diabetes
    • f. Liver disease
    • g. Urinary tract infections
  2. Radiographs (x-rays) of the hips and knees to screen for arthritis.
  3. Radiographs of the chest to evaluate the size of the heart and to look for any changes in the lungs.
  4. Radiographs of the abdomen to look for any evidence of masses (tumors) that we may not be able to feel during our exam.
  5. Blood pressure monitoring: that’s right dogs and cats can get high blood pressure too as they age. Just like in people this makes them more prone to blood clots, problems with the kidneys, and sudden blindness.
  6. Eye pressure measurement to screen for glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye).

If we identify any issues with your dog or cat with our exam or diagnostics, we will make sure that you have a clear understanding of what is happening, what the options are for treatment and what your next steps should be.

We know that as your pet ages, not knowing how to keep them comfortable and happy can be stressful. Every member of our staff is here to help you navigate this time in your dog’s life and help you provide the best care.

If you would like to have a consultation about your senior dog, please call our office at 540-297-1000.