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AAHA Senior Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats FAQs

What prompted the need for these guidelines?

The guidelines provide an educational tool to broaden the profession's understanding of optimal senior care. Likewise these guidelines provide a means for practitioners to illustrate to pet owners the importance of senior care, as well as define what constitutes optimal senior care. Independent guidelines from a third party like AAHA can make a big difference in pet owners' acceptance of senior care recommendations.

What issues do the guidelines address?

The guidelines cover several different areas:

  • Approaches to screening the medical status of senior pets are described in detail
  • Emphasis on establishing baseline data in healthy animals
  • Testing of clinically ill animals
  • Assessment of senior pets prior to anesthesia and surgery
  • Pain management
  • Hospice and palliative care
  • Advice on ways to approach euthanasia and dealing with end-of-life issues

What is the purpose of the guidelines?

The guidelines provide a framework for practitioners dedicated to enhancing the well-being of senior pets. They are a resource to help veterinary practice teams provide optimal care for aging pets.

How will practices benefit from implementing these guidelines?

The guidelines provide a means for veterinary practices to "raise the bar" and practice a higher level of medicine. In doing so, patients will benefit from improved care and many clients will enjoy this higher level of care. Additionally the guidelines can increase pride among practice staff members, who in turn are proud to be affiliated with a practice that offers the best for its pets.

Is the information provided in the guidelines "new"?

The guidelines pool together an already-existing body of knowledge encompassing evidence-based support, practical clinical experience, and expert opinion. By gathering and organizing this information into one source, AAHA is providing the profession with easy-to-reference guidelines to enhance the well-being of our senior pets.

How were the guidelines created?

In 2004, AAHA assembled a group of seven respected, experienced veterinarians with a variety of interests, backgrounds and specialties. Their goal was to create for veterinary practitioners a useful document about senior care. The guidelines were presented to the AAHA Board of Directors for approval.

Where can I find a copy of the guidelines?

The AAHA Senior Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats are published in the following formats:

Are AAHA members required to implement the guidelines?

These guidelines were developed as an educational tool to enhance the well-being of senior dogs and cats. The document in which the AAHA Senior Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats was published is intended as a guideline only.

Does AAHA offer any other guidelines?

AAHA has also published the 2003 AAHA Canine Vaccine Guidelines. The association is publishing a set of Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats in September 2005.

What if I have additional comments or questions regarding the guidelines?

Please email us your feedback at aahafeedback@aaha.org

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