Woodview Veterinary Clinic
Animal Wellness Center

Caring for your senior dog or cat

Do you have an older cat or dog? Animals greater than 11 years old are classified as “senior” pets. Just like people, as pets get older they body starts to change. You may notice them slowing down, not being as active or playing as much, or sometimes having trouble getting up the stairs or jumping onto your bed. They may start to loose their hearing and eyesight and behavioral changes car occur during this time as well. They may also gain weight because they are less active.

It is very important for your senior pet to have regular veterinary visits. As they age cats and dogs are prone to developing certain conditions such as decline in kidney function, certain hormonal imbalances, and heart conditions. Because of this we often recommend baseline blood work for older pets, we can pick up on changes in the blood before your pet is even showing outward signs of certain diseases. This early detection allows us to initiate treatment sooner and gives your pet a better quality of life.

Weight management

As your pet ages their metabolism slows down and they don’t need as much food. A lot of times we don’t realize this until our cats and dogs are overweight. Switching to a “senior” or “less-active” formula of dog food can help reduce calorie intake, cutting back on how much your feeding your pets and switching to lower calorie treats such as carrots or ice cubes can also help them loose weight. Animals that are a healthy weight live up to 1.8 years longer than overweight pets.


Cats may not jump up as much and may start to dislike being petting on the back, dogs may just seem stiff and have trouble with stairs, or they may actually develop a limp. Dealing with arthritis requires a multi-pronged approach. If your cat or dog is overweight it is very important to try to get them to a healthy weight. Any extra weight they are carrying is really going to stress their joints and make their arthritis worse. Animals with mild arthritis often benefit from joint supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin. A high quality product that our clinic recommends is Dasuquin. Over the counter products are often not the best choice for cats and dogs; it’s difficult to dose them for different sized cats and dogs and because these products are not FDA regulated, they don’t always meet their label claims. If your furry friend has a more severe form of arthritis there are anti-inflammatory medications that we can prescribe to help them feel better, common ones include Rimadyl, Metacam, Deramaxx, and Previcox. The last aspect of caring for pets with arthritis is environment modification. This can be as simple as putting steps up to your bed so your cat or dog doesn’t have to jump, moving litter boxes from the basement to the main level, lifting your dog or making a ramp for him to get into the car, and making slippery surfaces like wood or linoleum safer with non skid carpets.


Older animals may not always be able to groom themselves as well as they used to and their coats may become dry and brittle. Frequent brushing and regular bathing with a non-drying shampoo can help manage these signs of aging. If brushing and bathing are not enough, we carry an essential fatty acid capsule that can be added to the food and promotes a healthy coat.

Nail care

Because older pets are less active they don’t wear down their nails as quickly and may need more frequent nail trims. Sometimes older pets nails can become very brittle and may need to be trimmed using a dremel tool instead of a regular clipper.

If you have specific questions about your senior pet contact our office to set up an appointment today!

Woodview Veterinary Clinic
3284 Lighthouse Ln.
West Bend, WI 53090
(262)338-4146 (fax)