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I have tried to draw together relevant information from the published (and unpublished)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.