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TDK conference 2018

Canine and Feline Geriatrics: A Canadian Survey on the Health and Welfare of Senior Pets
Collet Saintin Héloise - year 5
University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest, Department of Animal Hygiene, Herdhealth and Veterinary Ethology
Supervisor: Dr András Adorján


During ageing, dogs and cats undergo numerous biochemical and physiological changes. In-depth knowledge about these changes is key to better understand the challenges of veterinary geriatrics that face owners and veterinarians, and consequently to improve the health and welfare of geriatric dogs and cats.

An online survey was conducted among 37 veterinarians, 93 owners of senior pets and 80 owners of young to adult pets in Canada. The results show that 54.1% of veterinarians confirm that there is a lack of information about the health and welfare of geriatric pets in veterinary education. However, veterinarians are deemed to be the main information source for owners. It therefore translates a clear lack of knowledge of owners too. The top 3 changes owners report in their pets are a decrease physical activity and endurance (84.9%), more time spent sleeping (61.3%) and disorders in locomotion and balance (43%). However, they do not consider these changes as pathological ageing: 95.7% of the owners think their pet is ageing normally, whereas only 7.5% of them report no signs of age-related changes at all. These results partly corelate with the most frequent diseases seen in consultation by veterinarians: locomotory disorders (86.5%), renal disease (83.8%), endocrine disorders (56.8%), dental disease (51.4%) and neoplastic disease (51.4%). Mobility issues were well recognised by owners but early signs of the other disorders were less well identified. Thus, demonstrating the need to continue to educate owners on the early signs of the more commonly diagnosed diseases in geriatric patients.

Great interest in the health and welfare of geriatric dogs and cats was noted from owners of both senior animals and young to adult animals. Owners ask veterinarians for advice about their geriatric pets. Owners of senior pets were most concerned about the quality of life of their animal (45.9%), management of mobility issues (37.9%) and appropriate alimentary diets (29.7%). Furthermore, owners of young to adult pets are prepared to progressively adapt the pet’s environment to its changing needs (77.5%), give preventive feed additives and vitamins (66.3%) and visit their veterinarian more frequently (62.5%) in order to make senior pets comfortable.

Progress remains to be made to align daily care of senior pets with current veterinary geriatric research. Therefore, providing care guidelines for owners of senior pets, in addition to continuing to educate veterinarians and nurses has a positive impact on the health and welfare of geriatric dogs and cats.

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