Q&A: Older veterinary patients need care, too


Clear up these common misconceptions about geriatric pets.

Q. Many of our clients think their older pets don't need vaccines. What should we say to clear up this common misconception?

You should tell pet owners that geriatric pets are one of the most important age groups to vaccinate, says Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Dr. Andy Rollo, an associate at Madison Veterinary Hospital in Madison Heights, Mich. "At my practice we've adopted a three-year vaccine policy against common viruses to spread out the number of vaccines a pet will get at one time," Dr. Rollo says. "But we still annually vaccinate veterinary patients to prevent diseases such as bordetella, leptospirosis, and Lyme disease."

Andy Rollo, DVM

Because geriatric patients face other potential complicating factors, it can be more problematic to treat them for these diseases. That's why it's of the utmost importance to protect your clients' older pets. Dr. Rollo suggests offering an example of what could happen if clients don't vaccinate their cat or dog. "Let's say you perform a blood screen test on a sick, unvaccinated, geriatric patient and it reveals azotemia," Dr. Rollo says. "Without any other diagnostic tests, you don't know if it's age-related renal failure or leptospirosis, and the treatments are drastically different." With a few vaccines, you can lower the risk of those situations and prevent diagnostic mistakes from occurring, Dr. Rollo says. It's your job to help clients help their older pets.

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