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.
Concepts to consider for spay and neuter timing from the 2019 AAHA Canine Life Stage Guidelines.
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.
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.
These tables will help you determine what tests are needed at each canine life stage.