Senior Pet Exams Oral Health
Chronic Pain Management Vaccinations
Laser Therapy Nutritional Consultations



Our pets age much faster than we do. A small dog or cat ages approximately 5 times the rate of a person.  A large dog ages at a rate of about 7 times a person. This means that one examination a year is the equivalent of once every 5-7 years in human terms. This is more than enough time for a disease process to gain a foothold and cause irreversible damage by the time of diagnosis.

Willowbend Animal Hospital performs a complete physical exam every 6 months on pets considered to be senior (5-7 years of age, depending on the breed). This exam is crucial in detecting subtle age-related changes that may affect the pet’s quality of life. There is not a diagnostic test available that surpasses or gives more vital information than a through physical exam.  In conjunction with the examination, it is vitally important for the veterinary health care team to ask questions about the pet at home. Questions relating to the pets activity level, interaction with people, mobility, appetite, thirst level, house training issues, can point the doctor down the right path in determining the health of the pet. Another key component of evaluating the overall health of a senior pet is laboratory work (CBC/Chemistry profile, urinalysis, intestinal parasite screen) once yearly. These tests allow the doctor to look a bit deeper into the pet’s health. A problem not noted on examination might be detected on lab work.

agestable - set-up

Body Parts Affected By the Aging process

aging - set-up


  • Just not acting right
  • Difficulty climbing stairs or jumping up
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Increased stiffness or limping
  • Weight change (gain or loss)
  • Discoloration/tartar on teeth
  • Bad breath/red or swollen gums
  • Change in hair coat or skin
  • New lumps or bumps or itching
  • Vocalization
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Loss of housetraining
  • Less interaction with family
  • Coughing
  • Tires easily
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Behavior changes – aggression, fear, or shyness

NOTE! Cats hide symptoms and pain much more than dogs. So keep a close watch for changes in your aging cat.

dog - set-up cat - set-up

--Back to top--


A primary goal of Willowbend Animal Hospital is to improve the quality of life for its patients.  Chronic pain often goes undetected and untreated. The result is that the pet lives silently in pain, unable to enjoy life to the fullest. The pet owner’s lack of perception that the pet is painful plays a major role in this. This lack of perception is fueled by three factors: 1) the fact that dogs and cats do not act like people do when they are painful 2) failure by the veterinarian in diagnosing that the pet is painful and 3) failure of the veterinary health care team in educating the pet owner about symptoms of chronic pain and available treatment options. 

The solution to this problem is to first realize that dogs and cats are not people; therefore we should not expect them to behave as we would if we were painful. A dog is a pack animal. Showing signs of pain is considered a sign of weakness in a pack, one risks being demoted in the pack, or even killed, if weakness is perceived. Cats are solitary and often tend to seclude themselves when they are painful. Just because they are not crying, does not mean they are not painful.

Signs of chronic pain include:

  • Reluctance to take walks of usual length
  • Stiffness (that may disappear once the pet has ‘warmed up’)
  • Difficulty climbing stairs, climbing in the car, on the bed or a sofa
  • Difficulty rising from rest
  • Limping                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
  • Abnormal gait
  • Licking of a single joint
  • Acting withdrawn, spending less time playing with family (which is often misunderstood as a sign of ‘aging’)
  • Soreness when touched
  • Rarely, aggression when touched or approached
  • Not sleeping well, restless
  • Panting excessively
  • Pacing, trembling, shaking                             

Pain evaluation is now considered a “vital sign”. Every patient examined must be evaluated for evidence of pain. At Willowbend Animal Hospital, we take this very seriously. EVERY PATIENT, ALL THE TIME. No shortcuts, every pet is examined, even on a wellness visit, for evidence of pain.

The good news is that pain management has advanced tremendously in the last several years. For most pets with chronic pain, there are treatment options that can be life-changing. Multi-modal therapy for pain is a treatment philosophy that means pain can be better controlled by using more than one mode of treatment.

Willowbend Animal Hospital believes that all pets with chronic osteo-arthritis pain should receive multi-modal therapy, using a disease modifying medication and laser therapy.

Adequan and Glucosamine are considered disease modifying medications. They offer reduction in pain by altering the progression of arthritis in painful joints. They modify the unhealthy environment in a painful joint by decreasing inflammation and helping to build and maintain healthy cartilage tissue. The result is less pain for the patient. They work by making the underlying problem better.

--Back to top--


Drug free and incredibly effective, laser energy (wavelengths of light)stimulate light receptors in the cell which decreases inflammation and swelling, stimulates healing, improves circulation and releases “feel good endorphins”, all of which can dramatically decrease pain in both dogs and cats. Laser treatments are side-effect free and without question will increase the quality of life for most pets living with chronic pain. Not only is laser therapy great for chronic pain, it is also very effective for short term pain.

Conditions responsive to laser treatments include:

  • Chronic arthritis
  • Chronic back pain
  • Post-surgical pain
  • Ear infections
  • Dermatitis
  • Flea allergy “hot spots”
  • Oral pain
  • Open wounds
  • Bladder infections
  • Sterile cystitis in cats
  • Chronic rhinitis/sinusitis
canine - set-up feline - set-up

In most cases, if there is inflammation and pain, laser therapy will provide instant relief and comfort. For our pets, it is all about living comfortable, pain-free and enjoying life.

To learn about Laser therapy, click here.

laser - set-up

To learn about ADEQUAN, click here.

adequan - set-up 

--Back to top--


Oral care is an often over-looked component of a pet’s health. This is unfortunate because.....

A full 85% of pets have periodontal disease by age 3 years.

Periodontal disease indicates there is bacterial destruction to the tissue that supports the tooth. It is the progression of gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and once started, is progressive and irreversible. However, it can be slowed down and managed. This is important because over time, periodontal disease will cause pain and tooth loss.



good-teeth - set-up  bad-teeth - set-up

Willowbend Animal Hospital understands that dental care is paramount in maintaining the health of your pet. Oral pain is overlooked by pet owners and veterinarians alike on a daily basis. Because the teeth are “hidden” in the mouth, the old saying:  “out of sight, out of mind” definitely applies here. This really is a quality of life issue for many pets.

A myth we hear almost every day is that because the pet is eating, he/she is not painful.  The truth is that the pet is still eating because they have to. It does not mean there is not pain.

The best option of course is prevention, just as with people.  Routine brushing of the teeth at home and the use of products designed to minimize plaque accumulation are critical to keeping the teeth healthy.

A crucial component of good oral care are planned COHATS (COMPREHENSIVE ORAL HEALTH ASSESSMENTS AND TREATMENT) under general anesthesia. A proper COHAT is more than just scraping obvious tartar off the crown of the tooth. Each tooth is carefully evaluated for disease and if indicated, digital radiographs are taken. If pathology of a tooth is noted, then measures to either salvage the tooth or remove (extract) the tooth are performed. The healthy teeth are then scaled, polished and oravet (a sealant applied at the end of the procedure, then at home on a routine basis), is applied.


smile - set-up

--Back to top--


Willowbend Animal Hospital follows the vaccination guidelines set forth by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) for dogs and the American Association of Feline Practioners (AAFP) for cats. CORE vaccines are those that are recommended for all patients, regardless of life-style. NONE-CORE vaccines are reserved for dogs or cats whose life-style puts them at risk for a disease.  It is important to remember that vaccines contain biological agents and sometimes adjuvants (chemicals used to enhance the protection of the vaccine) that can cause harm. Although the risk is small, it is real and therefore it is best to view each patient as an individual and, based on that pet’s health and life-style, determine what vaccines are appropriate.



kitten - set-up

Adjuvants are chemicals added to a vaccine that are intended to increase the effectiveness of the vaccine. Although effective, adjuvants have been shown to cause cancer in cats, specifically, injection site tumors. These are devastating, aggressive tumors that require aggressive surgery (usually amputation of the affected limb) - even with this, the prognosis is usually very poor.


Due to the association with tumor development, Willowbend Animal Hospital uses only adjuvant free vaccines for cats.







Herpes virus







Feline leukemia










Corona virus

Feline Immunodeficiency virus


Feline Infectious peritonitis


Virulent systemic calicivirus


Following the recommendation of AAHA and AAFP, Willowbend Animal Hospital vaccinates no more frequently than every 3 years for CORE vaccines (with one exception) and yearly for NON-CORE vaccines.


--Back to top--


Pet foods

We believe that dogs should be fed like dogs and cats should be fed like cats. In nature, dogs and cats both derive the majority of their calories from meat (especially cats), not from grains like corn. An ancestral type of diet is appropriate for dogs and cats.  Although the precise ratios differ between dogs and cats, a high protein, moderate fat and low carbohydrate food composition is ideal. Unfortunately, most pet foods, especially the large name brands that dominate the pet food industry do not come close to fitting this profile. Most of these brands are heavily carbohydrate based, using grains as the main source of energy, not meat based protein.

By-products are often used as a source of protein in pet foods. By-products are not inherently bad and actually can be nutritious – for example kidney and liver tissue. However, the quality of the by-product can be very questionable. Organs from the 4 D’s (dead, diseased, deceased and disabled) animals are considered unfit for human consumption but are acceptable to put into pet food. Do we really want to feed this to our pets? There are better, higher quality sources of protein that can be used in pet food.

Many of the large, name brand pet foods contain unspecified “animal fat” or “animal digest”. This sounds innocent enough but in reality, this “fat” is what is drained off after rendering (cooking at extreme temperatures) the food. When the pet food label does not specify the origin of the “fat”- it usually means there is no quality control of what went in. It could have been any animal(s), in any health state (diseased or healthy). This left over grease is sprayed onto the dry kibble to entice the pet to eat.

The pet food industry is cloaked in deception and word-play. For example, a label claiming “chicken” as its main ingredient is deceptive. Ingredients are listed on a label in order of weight. The ingredient with the heaviest weight is listed first. So, it looks great when “chicken” is listed first. However, the truth is that a lot of the weight of the chicken is water, so if you remove the water, the amount of actual chicken meat is far less than the ingredients listed behind it – usually corn, wheat, soy etc. A food you buy thinking it is meat based, is usually still grain based.  If the label states “chicken meal” as its main ingredient, then this is truthful because “meal” means the water has been removed.

The “guaranteed analysis” listed on the label of the pet food is very misleading and of little value. This is supposed to indicate the percent of nutrients in the food, but is inaccurate because it is a measure of an ingredient that still contains water- this artificially increases its percent. An accurate measure of the percent of nutrients is termed “dry matter” analysis, but this of course, is not listed on most labels. Dry matter indicates the percentage once the water has been removed and is the real measure of a nutrient.


Cats are being fed inappropriately in this country, as a direct result of what we have been told and sold by pet food manufacturers. Cats are strict carnivores, just like cows are strict herbivores. Does it make sense to feed a cow a meat based diet? No, it is species-inappropriate. Why then, does it make sense to feed a cat a plant-based diet? It is completely species-inappropriate.  In nature, a small cat eats meat, in the form of a mouse, bird or rabbit. This is a high protein, low carb diet. It is also a diet rich in water and as a result, cats have a low thirst drive and do not need to drink a lot of water.

Unfortunately, the pet food industry decided decades ago that in order to make a profit, they would use grains as the main source of energy in cat foods, instead of meat based protein. In addition, it was decided that cats should eat dry food that contains very little water, not taking into account that cats obtain their water by eating their prey.

Here are some of the results of these decisions:

  • Taurine deficiency-carnivores need taurine –found in meat. Without this amino acid, a fatal heart condition called DCM occurs. We learned this the hard way – a lot of cats died. That is why cat foods are now supplemented with taurine.
  • Obesity – carnivores are metabolically intended to digest calories from meat, not grains. It is interesting that once we put an obese cat on a high protein, low carb food, they lose weight.
  • Diabetes mellitus- a chronic high carb diet puts undue stress on the pancreas of a carnivore. Over time, the ability to produce insulin is reduced and diabetes ensues. A mainstay of treating a diabetic cat now is to change to a high protein, low-carb diet. Sometimes, this alone will resolve diabetes in a cat, without the need for insulin.
  • Bladder stones, urethral obstruction – we frequently see this terrible problem in cats. Without question, a key component to preventing this is feeding a canned food. The increased water content of canned food (similar to that found in prey) increases urine volume which then dilutes and flushes out into the urine the building blocks of stones before they can form.



The results of feeding grain based diets to our dogs have not been as devastating as they have been with cats. This is because dogs are not strict carnivores; they do eat plant material also. However, intuitively, we know that dogs are meat eaters and if we look at the food profile of a wolf/ancestral diet- carbohydrates are by far the least important nutrient from a percentage stand point in the diet. A wolf’s diet is heavily protein/fat based.


So, what food does Willowbend Animal Hospital recommend feeding?

We do not have a specific brand we recommend. Below are some guidelines.


Dogs and Cats:

  • Meat based, not grain based
  • Free of by-products
  • Free of unspecified “animal fat” or “animal digest”


Cats specifically:

  • As low a carbohydrate content as possible
  • Canned, not dry food


In general, we do not recommend the name brand foods found in supermarkets, and even in some veterinary clinics. Realize that the “AFFCO” label means nothing about the quality of the ingredients in the food, nor do statements such as “veterinarian approved.” We do not carry non-prescription food because we want to leave that decision to you. There are many good over the counter options. We do carry prescription diets for specific medical conditions.

If you would like help in deciphering a pet food label and/or help in determining the proper food for your pet, ask and we will be happy to help.

--Back to top--

7606 East 37th Street N
Wichita KS  67226
United States


Monday - Friday
7:30 am to 6 pm

8:00 am to 4:00 pm

Telephone Us for an Appointment
(316) 854-9271



(316) 262-5321
737 South Washington
Wichita, Ks



Refer a friend and receive a $20 credit on your account.


We work hard to earn your trust.

Home Again

VisaCC - Payement ccIcons Master-CardCC - Payement ccIcons
Discover-Card - Payement ccIcons American-ExpressCC - Payement ccIcons
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service