Geriatric Patients

Dogs and cats are living longer than ever and that phenomenon is directly related to the fact that today people take such good care of their animals. Important changes, affecting 85% of pets today, with a focus on nutrition, rapidly advancing veterinary care and loving environments are responsible for the life expectancy of animals to be extended, in general, 5 years longer across the board than was previously the norm.
The human – animal bond is strong. Many people today take fantastic care of their pets and have educated themselves on the best protocols for these important friends. Every aspect of how to care for the family pet is considered in terms of diet, vacations, exercise, entertainment, grooming, wellness, comfort, aging and more.

Veterinary clinics today are working hard to keep up with the changes and trends of their patients as we learn to care for the large group of aging animals. Geriatric medicine is catching up to the incredible advances made in diagnostics, surgery, and maintenance medicine.

Three important aspects of the aging pet we consider are:

Diet: obviously starting early is important. Two things can happen to the aging patient: becoming either over or under weight. It is easier to prevent a pet from becoming overweight than it is to diet him but we are very successful at helping the committed owner who wants to help their pet lose weight. This involves selecting the correct snacks, as well as the appropriate food. The underweight and aging pet can be a bit more of a challenge and the underlying causes must be diagnosed but in most cases we can help clients maintain a healthy weight in the elderly pet. One of the most important aspects of diet in the geriatric pet is being aware of the changes going on with respect to his or her vital organs and metabolism and selecting the best diet, supplements and snacks for his or her particular condition.

Several prescription foods are available that directly target the aging brain and we can discuss those with you. Some over-the-counter foods are available as well. We feel there are excellent choices and can give that information to you if you would like.

Preventative care: this overview will now discuss the subject of preventative medicine. As you are aware, pets are very stoic in the face of considerable disease and one of the difficult aspects of care in veterinary medicine is the fact that we often do not see the pet until a disease process is very advanced. A well-thought out and followed preventative plan is a great way to minimize testing and monitoring and can offer tremendous insight to what is going on inside the pet. There are medications available that target the diseases and changes that adversely affect the older patient and we can guide you toward those after an evaluation that will tell us if your pet is in need of preventative care.

It is very comforting to pet owners when an elderly patient has a normal physical exam and consult, blood pressure, ecg and urinalysis. We ask specific questions to discern if there are subtle changes in the animal that might lead us to want further diagnostics.

Exercise: exercise should be maintained for the elderly patients. Did you know that 15 minutes 3 times per week of forced exercise (movement at a steady pace) will go a long way in maintaining a healthy metabolism in your friend? As with the diet, exercise should be implemented at a young age and adjusted as the pet ages.

Cognitive function can be supported in the geriatric pet with specific supplements and there are medicines available if your friend is found to be in need. Antioxidants, healthy fats and pain medications can keep the old aches and pains away just like in us! Certain activities and ideas to encourage the older pet and suggestions to protect them, especially when he or she is alone, are available if you need them.

It can be challenging to care for the older, but fabulous, member of your family and we are here if you need us.