At the time of writing this book the study of geriatrics as a veterinary discipline is very much in its infancy. My interest in the subject is obviously becoming more acute as I work through my own midlife crises and see old age looming on the not-too-distant horizon, but the main stimulus for me to write this book came from Dr J. Mosier (USA), a pioneer of the study of geriatrics in veterinary medicine, and Dr Mary Harrington, a human geriatrician in London - both of whom took part in a Symposium on Geriatric Veterinary Medicine which I organised in London in 1988.

In researching for this book I was disappointed at the relative lack of published work on many aspects of geriatrics in veterinary medicine. However I am pleased to say that there is now a considerable amount of work going on - particularly in the areas of progressive renal disease and cognitive disorders. There are inherent dangers in extrapolating too much from experimental studies and from studies conducted in different species, nevertheless there are many useful comparative correlations to be drawn from veterinary species to humans and vice versa.

Much work needs to be done to obtain base information about geriatric veterinary patients and in the meantime it would be helpful to the develof veterinary geriatric medicine if the non-sensitive research data from studies in cats and dogs currently held by many pharmaceutical companies and other institutions could be made available.

I have tried to draw together relevant information from the published (and unpublished) works of many researchers in various fields and I wish to thank them for documenting their subjects so well. I have tried to make sense out of the information available and to address some of the main issues in geriatric medicine to assist clinicians in first opinion practice. I have avoided in-depth coverage of some topics such as arthritis which perhaps should be in a book on geriatrics, but these are well documented in other publications.

At times I have been deliberately controversial and I look forward to receiving correspondence from colleagues with alternative views!

I have absolutely no doubt that this book will need to be totally revised within the next few years but in the meantime I hope that it will stimulate some of my colleagues to look further at this interesting group of patients which present such a clinical challenge, and I hope that it may lead to an improvement in the future care and management of geriatric veterinary patients.

Mike Davies BVetMed CertVR CertSAO FRCVS

Dorset, March 1996


Plate 7 was reproduced courtesy of B.D. Murdoch.