Gillian attended a one day course focusing on geriatric medicine recently.  The course, aptly named “Ageing Disgracefully”, was presented by Yvonne McGrotty, a European and RCVS Recognised Specialist in Veterinary Small Animal Medicine.  Yvonne taught Gillian when she was a final year undergraduate at Glasgow Vet School – this was during her residency training – and it was interesting to be taught by her all these years on (not too many years…….!).  Gillian also had the pleasure of catching up with Catriona Urquhart at the course, who some of you may remember from her years of work at Westport Veterinary Clinic.  Catriona is now based in Aberdeen and had travelled down to the central belt for the course.

The day kicked off with Yvonne emphasising the importance of screening for disease in our older pets.  She presented data confirming  that at least one undetected problem was picked up in 80% of older animals presented for annual booster vaccination, re-enforcing the importance of regular checks for all our pets, but especially those in their “twilight years”.  The rest of the day was spent on updating our knowledge with the latest advances in the treatment of some commonly encountered medical problems of the older pet – kidney disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, adrenal disease and urinary incontinence.  There was also a lecture dedicated to “cognitive dysfunction”.  This condition is being more commonly recognised in our older pets, probably as advances in medicine in other areas lead to longer lives.  Yvonne informed us that the condition in dogs is very similar to Alzheimer’s in humans and indeed the canine model is now being used to assist treatment advances in human medicine.

It was a very interesting day and certainly provided food for thought in terms of routine screening of our older pets.