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Compendium September 2011 (Vol 33, Issue 9)

Guest Editorial: Introducing the International Veterinary Senior Care Society

by Heidi Lobprise, DVM, DAVDC

    IVSCS logo

    Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that I have already started receiving letters in the mail from the AARP…so when the conversation turns to senior care, I sometimes have to clarify what species we are discussing. For now, since Compendium is a veterinary publication, I’ll stick to dogs and cats. Estimates place up to 39% of dogs and 45% of cats in the United States in the “senior” category, which translates into a very large segment of our companion animal population. Some of the reasons for the “graying” of this group include better wellness care and early diagnosis of disease states, as well as a closer bond between owners and pets that encourages better monitoring and care for four-legged family members. The result is longer life spans for pets, during which the human–companion animal bond can grow stronger.

    Senior care can be encouraged in your clinic in a number of ways, from regular senior health exams to dietary modifications to programs for enhancing client education. At the beginning of 2011, I started looking for specific continuing education talks about senior care at the large national meetings. I found some speakers and sessions here and there, but most of the information being presented was scattered among various disciplines as a geriatric component of a larger topic. In my search for knowledge, I came to realize that there are organizations for many veterinary groups based on geography, species, and interest—including dentistry, behavior, and even wound care—but there was no community organized to support veterinary senior care.

    On July 18, 2011, that changed. Thanks to a number of people contacted early in the year and their input through e-mail and at casual get-togethers at conferences in Orlando and Las Vegas, the International Veterinary Senior Care Society (IVSCS) is now a reality. At this year’s AVMA meeting, a group gathered and accepted a board of directors, logo, and bylaws draft. The interested individuals are a diverse group: veterinarians and technicians, academicians and private practitioners, even industry and media representatives. The myriad issues that face senior pets reflect that same diversity in all the disciplines that need to be addressed. While most organizations are formed to look at a narrow focus of veterinary interest, senior care has to be widely inclusive, encompassing just about every aspect of veterinary care out there: anesthesia, behavior, cardiology, dentistry…a virtual alphabet of care.

    The IVSCS has now taken its first steps and is looking forward to a steady progression of ideas and action items that will help it live up to its mission statement: to provide resources targeting the complete health care needs of senior pets to the veterinarian, their team, and clients. What will that level of support and resources look like?  It will be up to the individuals that come together to work with and contribute to the society. As the word gets out, we need to recruit those with an interest for gathering and integrating information from a wide range of disciplines to provide a comprehensive resource for senior care. Could you be one of those people, or do you know someone who is? You are more than welcome to join us build the foundation of this growing effort. Just contact me, Heidi Lobprise, DVM, DAVDC, at Heidi.Lobprise@virbacus.com and be on the watch for upcoming activities, including the launching of a Web site and events at conferences.

    NEXT: Neonatal Encephalopathy in Foals

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