Routine tests such as the minimum database may be helpful for the wellness evaluation of any age dog, but are particularly important for the mature, senior, and geriatric patient, allowing early dedtection of disease or trends in clinical or laboratory parameters that may be of concern.
Developmental periods do not start and end abruptly, but rather phase in and out gradually. A checklist of items to discuss with each client based on life stage is available.
The veterinary team is the preferred source of nutritional information and has a key role in advising clients about the quality and safety of food and supplements, especially with recurrent food safety issues and misinformation about canine diets.
With appropriate care, oral and dental disease and the associated pain may be either prevented or minimized. With so many dogs affected, dental care must be incorporated into each dog’s wellness plan and discussed at every visit.
Veterinarians play a crucial role in protecting dogs, their families, and the public. Routine testing to screen healthy pets for zoonotic disease or shared disease (e.g., tick-borne illness) may allow early detection in people by acting as a sentinel for family health.
Safety hazards vary with life stage and lifestyle, as well as with impairments of mobility, hearing, or sight. Guide the client in identifying and evaluating the potential for hazards, including:
At the initial puppy visit, discuss the dog’s reproductive future. Monitor older dogs for neoplasms of the reproductive organs.
The ultimate goal of wellness care is improved quality of life and longevity. Comprehensive life stage wellness care permits early detection and treatment or control of disease and cost-saving in long-term healthcare expenses.
2012 AAHA Canine Life Stage Guidelines references.
AAHA recommends that all dogs not intended for deliberate breeding be spayed or castrated. For pet owners who choose to breed, practitioners should promote responsible breeding practices including collaboration with research programs to reduce perpetuation of disease through careful selection of breeding individuals.