Vet Corner: Geriatric Pets
by Sandra Black, DVM
Kittens and puppies are great. Who can dispute that? I have always preferred puppies and kittens to full-grown pets, but in the past few years I have had the pleasure of taking in several older pets and, although it has been different, it has been very rewarding.
From a medical perspective, older animals can have many ailments. Dogs commonly have arthritis, and may be incontinent or have tumors or dental disease, or have a metabolic diseases, diabetes, Cushings, heart disease, or have problems with hearing or vision—just to name a few. Cats also may have arthritis, dental disease or tumors, but are also frequently affected by a metabolic issue–diabetes, kidney failure or hyperthyroidism.
When giving an older pet a new home, you should expect any of the following:
- Increased visits to your veterinarian for blood testing or monitoring, or changes in medications or therapies
- Daily medications, possibly even special diets or feeding strategies
- Accommodations for decreased mobility (ramps, footing, orthopedic beds, different litter or litter boxes)
- More trips outside (even in the colder weather!)
What you will get from all this extra work? Satisfaction. Giving furry friends comfort in their twilight years has immeasurable benefits, the likes of which you will not realize until you have experienced it. So, contact ARF, the Catman2 Shelter, or the Jackson County Animal Shelter and give an old dog or cat a retirement home if you can.
To Handsome, Dixie, Grace, Holly, Sally, Mimi, and Mia: thank you for letting me help you, and thank you for the memories.
Sandra Black, DVM