typically pets who are 12 yrs. or older

Canine Geriatric Pet

What is a geriatric pet?

Geriatric pets are those that are typically over 12 years of age and show definite signs of aging. Common aging symptoms are decreased mobility, anxiety or cognitive changes, decreased hearing and sight, and of course, these pets often have medical problems as well such as kidney, heart, and dental disease.

This is the time when owners often begin to fear the loss of their pet and begin to question their pet’s quality of life. See our Geriatric Questionnaire below and the section on hospice care for more on this topic.


Cats older geriatric pet

What are the Concerns for Geriatric Patients

Problems facing this age group are the same as the senior patients but they become more pronounced.

This age group is almost always on medication, often multiple medications at a time. Owners are sometimes resistant to the thought of treating their pets with these medications.

However, these drugs may make the difference between living and living comfortably. Geriatric patients sleep a lot, but it can be difficult to tell the difference between this as a normal aging change and sleeping due to pain or illness.

We can help families tell the difference through careful questioning, physical exams, and testing.

We can help you navigate the decisions on what is reasonable and what makes good sense for you and your pet. See our section on Euthanasia for more.

Geriatric Dog Vet Questions

Aging happens gradually in our pets, making symptoms hard to notice until there are significant impacts on the pet’s daily routine.

Mobility can seem to change overnight when in reality there have been gradual shifts that pets naturally hide. They can’t tell us about aches and pains, so it may be hard to notice unless you know what clues to look for.

Because you know your pet better than anyone, using this checklist may help you identify these subtle changes earlier in order to help us diagnose problems and find possible solutions to ease the aging process.

This questionnaire can be a guide at your senior or geriatric pet’s next visit with us to help us identify problems and plan the best strategy for care.

Veterinarian Exam for Geriatric Pets


(You can print this if you'd like by clicking here: Geriatric Pet Questionnaire)


How many hours of sleep does your pet average per day?

Do they seek warmer, cooler or softer places to lie?

Do they have a peaceful sleep throughout the night?  YES / NO

If No: Do they get up during the night to (mark all those that apply):

  • Urinate
  • Defecate
  • Drink Water
  • Pant
  • Pace
  • Whine
  • Bark


Has there been...?

  • increase in urination
  • urinary accidents
  • leaking urine where they lay
  • changes office appearance
  • fecal incontinence
  • awareness of fecal incontinence

If Any: Please explain:


Have you noticed…

  • a change in hearing
  • change in their bark or meow
  • meowing/moaning more
  • coughing more
  • a cough that sounds like throat clearing
  • bad breath
  • panting more frequently

If Vision Problems (mark all those that apply): 

  • in bright light
  • in dim light
  • at night
  • up close


Have you noticed...

  • Nails longer than normal
  • itching 
  • shivering
  • masses
  • a bad smell
  • licking or chewing body
  • For Cats: Does your pet still groom him or herself?
    YES / NO

Is your pet’s skin:  flaky / dry  / oily  / unkempt


Does your pet do any of the following?

  • pace during the day
  • stare off into space
  • show increased aggression 
  • experience any seizures
  • exhibit less interaction with family
  • act disoriented or distant during the day
  • show agitation certain times of the day
  • find themselves stuck in odd locations

How long is your pet left by him or herself during the day?

Does your pet have a favorite game?  YES / NO

If yes: Please explain:


Has there been...?

  • increase in thirst
  • weight loss
  • weight gain

What is the diet your pet is currently on, including treats?


Check all of the following that pertains to your pet?

  • needs assistance to get up
  • dragging feet/toes
  • change in gait/walk
  • has difficulty jumping
  • must navigate up/down stairs in or outside the home
  • need assistance climbing stairs

What floor type do you have at home:

  • tile
  • wood floor 
  • laminate
  • rug
  • other

What is your pet’s exercise schedule?

Has this changed in the past year?  YES / NO


Please discuss the following items in detail with your veterinarian

Are there other pets in the home?    What kind/how old?

What are your major concerns?

List your pet’s top 3 favorite things:

List 3 things your pet hates:

What quality of life do you think your pet has right now (1-10 with 10 being the greatest)?


You can also track your pet's Quality of Life with this daily chart. To print or download click on the image. 🙂

Track your geriatric pets quality of Life

More Helpful Aging Pet Information

Geriatric Pets that are 12yrs old or more