Senior Pet Care in Charleston

Pets are living longer than ever thanks to advances in veterinary care, improvements in diet, and preventive care by owners. Because of this, pets, vets, and owners are faced with a whole new set of age-related conditions. Cats and small dogs are considered geriatric at the age of 7-8, while larger breeds reach old age at 6. More and more owners are reaching out to veterinary health providers for information pertaining to aging pets. West Ashley Veterinary Clinic can help by raising awareness and promoting senior pet wellness care.

First, read a simple Q and A about aging pets:

Senior Pet Care in Charleston, SC

What Kind of Problems Affect Older Pets?


There are numerous types of cancers that affects dogs and cats. Some signs of cancer in pets include a visible mass or tumor, lumps, bumps, or discolored skin, difficulty eating, sudden change in weight, and unexplained swelling, heat, or pain.

Heart Disease

Cardiovascular disease, if caught early enough, can be treated. Signs of heart disease include difficulty breathing, coughing, belly bloat, weakness, and sudden back leg weakness.

Kidney/Urinary Tract Disease

Kidney disease is often associated with aging, and some symptoms include significant weight loss, pale gums, uncoordinated movement, decrease in appetite, and vomiting.

Liver Disease

Liver disease is common in dogs. Symptoms to look out for include loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, blood clotting problems, and jaundice.


Very similar to how it affects human, diabetes in pets is a chronic disease that may require a prescription diet. Symptoms of diabetes in pets include excessive water drinking, decreased appetite, weight loss, and cloudy eyes.

Joint or Bone Disease

There are several forms of bone disease, including hip dysplasia. Some symptoms of bone disease include pain in the joint areas, fever, loss of appetite, and depression.


Also known as cognitive dysfunction, this disorder has effects similar to Alzheimer disease. Symptoms include disorientation, decreased responsiveness to humans, decreased activity level, and accidents inside the house.


A common issue most senior pets experience, some symptoms to look for in pets include having a hard time getting up, collapsing, shaky muscles, and not wanting to do much of anything.

Vision and Hearing Loss

While it’s not painful to pets, vision and hearing loss is very common in senior pets. Symptoms include no motion in ears, bumping into things around the house, and acting jumpy.

Thyroid Problems

Hypothyroidism is relatively low for dogs, and high for cats. Symptoms include weight gain, inactivity, and getting cold easily.

How Do We Help Our Older Pets Stay Healthy and Happy Longer?

  1. Take them for more frequent vet visits (at least twice a year).
  2. Address illness promptly.
  3. Feed easily digestible geriatric diets.
  4. Have senior blood work done at least once a year.
  5. Address dental care needs.
  6. Control weight gain or loss.
  7. Provide reasonable exercise for mobility.
  8. Avoid heat or cold extremes.
  9. Give appropriate vaccinations and parasite preventatives.

Our Senior Wellness Package includes:

  • Detailed senior exam (during which any concerns or problems can be addressed)*
  • Senior screening bloodwork to evaluate major organ function
  • Thyroid function testing
  • Urinalysis

*further diagnostic testing or procedures not included in package price.


What Are Some Possible Behavior Changes in Older Pets?

  1. Increased reaction to sounds
  2. Increased vocalization
  3. Confusion
  4. Disorientation
  5. Decreased interaction w/humans
  6. Increased irritability
  7. Decreased response to commands
  8. Increased aggressive/protective behavior
  9. Increased anxiety
  10. House soiling
  11. Decreased self-hygiene/grooming
  12. Repetitive activity
  13. Increased wandering
  14. Change in sleep cycles

What Are the Common Warning Signs of Disease in Older Pets?

  1. Decrease in appetite
  2. Increased thirst
  3. Gastrointestinal upsets
  4. Lack of movement or mobility
  5. Changes in urination/defecation or blood in the urine or stool
  6. Coughing
  7. Difficulty breathing

How Common is Cancer in an Aging Pet?

About half of all pets over the age of 10 will get some form of cancer. The statistics in cats are not as clear. A diagnosis of cancer might come from blood work, X-rays, ultrasound, and advanced imaging like MRI or CT scans. The most effective way to diagnose cancer is with biopsy of the affected tissue.

When is it Time to Think about Euthanasia of an Older Pet?

This is always a very difficult question and is the hardest event we face in a pet’s life. West Ashley Vet can help by providing an End of Life packet with guidelines on quality of life evaluations, tips on hospice care, and a description of the euthanasia process.

From providing information to actively engaging in discussion with you about your older pet, West Ashley Veterinary Clinic is here for you. We provide Senior Wellness exams and diagnostics to prolong quality during an uncertain time of your pet’s life. Call today for this important appointment and enjoy additional incentives during Senior Pet Wellness month.