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Conclusion

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.

References

2012 AAHA Canine Life Stage Guidelines references.

Reproductive Health

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.

Concepts to Consider

Concepts to consider for spay and neuter timing from the 2019 AAHA Canine Life Stage Guidelines.

Balancing Risks

These recommendations attempt to balance risk of orthopedic disease, USMI, and some cancers associated with early sterilization, against risk of mammary neoplasia, unwanted litters, and possible other cancers if sterilized later. These medical recommendations may need to be balanced against certain nonmedical extenuating circumstances, such as likelihood of future access to veterinary care, financial incentives provided by adoption groups, or the opportunity to perform surgical sterilization concurrently with another anesthetized procedure.

Canine Life Stage Definitions

The 2019 AAHA Canine Life Stage Guidelines focus on life stages that require different approaches to preventive care. The spectrum of care within each life stage is affected by the age, size, lifestyle, health status, and breed of the dog.

Vaccinations

Technologies used in the manufacturing of vaccines for animals have expanded significantly over the past decade. The number of licensed vaccines continues to grow, driven largely by the need to protect dogs against emerging pathogens, enhance vaccine safety, and improve immunogenicity of existing vaccines. 83  

Lifestyle and Safety Assessment

Safety hazards vary with the patient’s life stage and lifestyle as well as with impairments of mobility, hearing, or vision. Veterinary teams should guide the pet owner in identifying and evaluating the potential for hazards.

Zoonoses and Human Safety

Veterinarians play a crucial role in protecting dogs, their families, and the public from exposure to zoonotic diseases. Dogs can serve as a sentinel for infections shared with humans. Routine evaluation and diagnostic testing to screen pet dogs for disease vectors and zoonotic infections can enhance recognition of disease risk in people.

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