What Surgical Options Are Available for Geriatric Pets?

Our pets are beings of resilience and charm that, with time, become an inseparable part of our families. As our furry friends age, similar to their human counterparts, they may face various health issues requiring surgical intervention. This can be emotionally draining for pet owners who want the best for their lovable family members. Modern veterinary medicine has made major strides and offers effective and safe surgical options for geriatric pets.

Geriatric Pet Care

Geriatric pet care refers to the specialized attention and medical support provided to older animals as they age. Just like humans, pets experience age-related changes in their bodies, which may require extra care and attention to maintain their health and quality of life. Geriatric pet care addresses the unique needs and challenges that older pets may face as they enter their senior years. Here are some key aspects of geriatric pet care:

  • Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Older pets should undergo more frequent veterinary check-ups to monitor their health, detect early signs of age-related conditions, and promptly address emerging health issues. To help maintain the health of your elderly pets, preventative care in the form of vaccinations and parasite prevention is essential. Regular dog shots in Lincoln or other regional veterinary practices can protect your dog from various diseases.
  • Nutrition and Diet: Geriatric pets often have different nutritional requirements. Special senior pet food formulas may be recommended to address their changing needs, maintain a healthy weight, and support joint health.
  • Weight Management: Obesity can worsen health conditions in older pets. Maintaining a healthy weight through proper diet and exercise is essential to prevent strain on aging joints and organs.
  • Joint Support: Many senior pets experience arthritis or joint pain. Joint supplements or medications the veterinarian prescribes can help manage discomfort and improve mobility.
  • Dental Care: Dental health becomes increasingly important in geriatric pet care. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can prevent dental diseases, which can affect overall health.
  • Exercise and Mental Stimulation: While older pets may not have the same energy levels as when they were younger, regular exercise and mental stimulation are still essential to keep them active and engaged.
  • Pain Management: Some senior pets may experience chronic pain due to age-related conditions. Proper pain management, prescribed by a veterinarian, can significantly improve their quality of life.
  • Hydration and Urinary Health: Older pets may be prone to urinary issues like incontinence or urinary tract infections. Ensuring they have easy access to water and addressing any urinary health concerns is crucial.
  • Environmental Modifications: Modifying the living environment to suit the needs of older pets can help them navigate more comfortably, especially if they experience mobility challenges.
  • Comfort and Support: Providing comfortable bedding, warmth, and a safe environment can greatly benefit senior pets, who may have difficulty regulating their body temperature.
  • Managing Cognitive Changes: Some older pets may experience cognitive decline, leading to confusion or changes in behavior. Enrichment activities and interacting with them can help manage cognitive changes.
  • Medication and Treatment Adherence: Geriatric pets may require medications for chronic conditions. Ensuring they receive medications as prescribed is crucial for managing their health.
  • End-of-Life Planning: Discussing with the veterinarian about end-of-life care and making decisions about palliative care or euthanasia is an essential part of geriatric pet care.

Each pet’s aging process is unique, and geriatric care should be tailored to meet the animal’s needs. Regular communication with a trusted veterinarian is crucial in providing the best possible care for senior pets and ensuring they age gracefully with love and comfort.

Surgical Services for Pets

Being faced with a surgical procedure for your elderly pet can be daunting. However, understanding the potential options and how skilled a veterinary surgeon is can help alleviate some fears. Some surgical options are available for senior pets:

1. Orthopedic Surgeries

  • Joint Replacements: Advanced surgical procedures may involve joint replacement for conditions like hip dysplasia or severe arthritis. Artificial joint prostheses can improve mobility and reduce pain in affected joints.
  • Bone Repairs: Fractures and orthopedic injuries can be treated through bone repair surgeries, using pins, plates, or external fixators to stabilize and align fractured bones for proper healing.
  • Cruciate Ligament Repair: Dogs with torn cruciate ligaments often require surgical stabilization, such as TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) or TTA (Tibial Tuberosity Advancement), to restore stability to the knee joint.

2. Soft Tissue Surgeries

  • Organ Procedures: Surgical interventions may be necessary for various internal organ conditions, such as liver lobectomy, splenectomy, or cystotomy to remove bladder stones.
  • Cancer Removal: Tumor removal surgeries are performed to excise cancerous growths, reduce pain, and improve the overall quality of life for pets with cancer.
  • Abdominal Surgeries: These procedures address gastrointestinal blockages, foreign body removal, and repair of gastrointestinal perforations.

3. Minimally Invasive Procedures

  • Laparoscopic Surgeries: Minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques involve using small incisions and a camera (laparoscope) to perform abdominal surgeries. This results in reduced trauma, shorter recovery times, and less post-operative pain for the pet.
  • Endoscopy: Endoscopic procedures use a flexible tube with a camera (endoscope) to diagnose and treat gastrointestinal tract and airway issues, such as foreign body retrieval or biopsy collection.

4. Laser Surgery

  • Laser surgery is a precise technique that uses a focused beam of light (laser) to cut tissues during surgery.
  • It is commonly used in various procedures, including tumor removal, spaying, neutering, and oral surgeries.
  • Laser surgery offers advantages such as reduced bleeding, less swelling, and quicker recovery.

5. Dental Surgeries

  • Dental procedures include tooth extractions, root canal treatments, and tumor removals in the oral cavity.
  • Dental surgeries contribute to oral health, alleviate pain, and improve the pet’s ability to eat comfortably.

6. Neurosurgery

  • Neurological surgeries address conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord, or peripheral nerves, such as herniated discs, spinal decompressions, or brain tumor removals.

7. Ophthalmic Surgeries

  • Ocular surgeries involve treating various eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, and eyelid abnormalities through cataract surgery or enucleation.

8. Reconstructive Surgeries

  • Reconstructive procedures aim to repair and restore the function and appearance of body structures affected by trauma, wounds, or congenital abnormalities, such as skin grafts or tissue flaps.

9. Emergency Surgeries

  • Emergency surgeries may be required for trauma, gastrointestinal obstructions, severe bleeding, or other life-threatening conditions in urgent situations.

10. Elective Surgeries:

  • Some procedures, such as spaying and neutering, are elective but essential for controlling the pet population and preventing certain health issues like uterine infections or testicular cancer.

Over and above specific situations that require surgical solutions, overall health maintenance of your pet is just as crucial. An annual checkup for dogs or pets is a great way to ensure their health is regularly monitored. 


While it’s unsettling to consider surgical interventions for our aging pets, it’s comforting to know that numerous treatment options are available from skilled professionals to ensure our pets’ well-being and extended lifespan. Regular check-ups, vaccinations, and preventative health measures can also significantly contribute to our loyal companions’ higher quality of life. Aging might be inevitable, but we can ensure our pets live their golden years in comfort and joy with love, care, and modern veterinary services.