The cost of prevention is often a fraction of the cost of treating a disease or problem once it has become more advanced. Early diagnosis and treatment of developing problems or diseases can improve the likelihood of successful outcome. The increasing ability to share the risk of pet-care costs offers an advantage to the practice team and pet owner alike.
Former board member Caroline Lubeck, DVM, discusses preventive care and self-care; compliance made easy with the new 2019 AAHA Canine Life Stage Guidelines; 2019 AAHA-Accredited Practice of the Year finalists; and a recap of Connexity. Plus, Dear AAHA addresses whether CT machines should be repurposed for dental radiographs.
Guidelines are offered to guide the veterinary practitioner in designing a comprehensive, individualized wellness plan for each stage of a dog’s life.
The AAHA Canine Life Stage Task Force members consisted of:
For practical purposes, rather than attempt to calculate age equivalents to humans, this task force suggests that life stage should be defined not just by age, but also by characteristic (e.g., puppy, senior, geriatric).
Encourage clients to acclimate dogs to safe travel prior to the veterinary visit. Plan appointments to minimize wait and create a quiet, calm environment. Train the veterinary team in low-stress handling techniques.
In addition to standard body systems review, a thorough history includes asking about a variety of items, including the daily routine and using open-ended questioning techniques when appropriate.
As these guidelines emphasize, no two dogs are alike, and their veterinary care should be as individualized as they are. Each dog’s age and lifestyle factors should be considered by the veterinary team when making recommendations—including those related to spaying and neutering. This web conference delves further into this aspect of the guidelines. Available at no charge, this course is facilitated by Phil Bushby, DVM, MS, DACVS, who will provide in-depth direction on the ideal age to spay or neuter dogs and puppies to ensure their highest level of care.
Resources from the 2019 AAHA Canine Life Stage Guidelines for both pet owners and veterinary teams.
The guidelines are an update and extension of the AAHA Canine Life Stage Guidelines published in 2012. A noteworthy change from the earlier guidelines is the division of the dog’s lifespan into five stages (puppy, young adult, mature adult, senior, and end of life) instead of the previous six. This simplified grouping is consistent with how pet owners generally perceive their dog’s maturation and aging process and provides a readily understood basis for an evolving, lifelong healthcare strategy.