Treatment and Care of the Geriatric Veterinary Patient, edited by Drs. Mary Gardner and Dani McVety, is the fifth in my 12 Pet Books of Christmas series. And, although there is no partridge in a pear tree, there is me, as I contributed to this veterinary-focused book, which offers all you need to know regarding the geriatric pet.
The book kicks off with a discussion of exactly what geriatric means. After all, old age is not a disease. And, how changes naturally occur to our pets’ senses, from vision and hearing to smelling and tasting as our pets age.
As they age, many dogs actually begin to have a certain odor about them (they stink); what’s up with that? The book addresses all sorts of dermatological concerns related to aging animals.
Of course, cancers and kidney disease—common conditions among aging animals—are discussed as well.
The book includes behavior problems, such as canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (similar to Alzheimer’s), general behavior of geriatric patients, and the chapter I authored, called “Environmental Enrichment and Senior Pets: The Next Best Thing to a Fountain of Youth.” Enrichment shouldn’t stop as pets age, though the enrichment activities may change.
How do pet caretakers decide when to end life? End-of-life decisions, and how to assess when it’s time, is an entire chapter, authored by Dr. Gardner. One chapter focuses on dealing with the emotional fall-out of euthanasia as a veterinary practitioner. Another focuses on helping pet caretakers deal with grief. What is pet hospice, and when is that a good idea?
Today, veterinarians can do more for aging pets than ever before, but pets don’t live forever. And most pet owners will witness the cycle of life many times over. Being informed by expert authors who contributed to this book may be helpful.