Course code Vete3049

Credit points 3

Animal Gerontology and Geriatrics

Total Hours in Course81

Number of hours for lectures16

Number of hours for seminars and practical classes12

Number of hours for laboratory classes12

Independent study hours41

Date of course confirmation16.11.2022

Responsible UnitPreclinical Institute

Course developers

author prof.

Līga Kovaļčuka

Dr. med. vet.

author prof.

Aija Ilgaža

Dr. med. vet.

Prior knowledge

Vete2015, Anatomy of the Domestic Animals III

Vete3026, Special Pathology and Forensic Veterinary Medicine II

Vete4023, Small Animal Surgery I

Vete4037, General Pathology II

Vete4098, Small Animal Internal Medicine I

Vete4111, Clinical and Laboratory Diagnostics II

Vete6023, Physiology II

Course abstract

Gerontology is a medical and biological science that studies the causes, regularities and possible consequences of the ageing of living organisms and the possibilities to extend the quality of life.
By studying the gerontology course, students will gain not only complex, in-depth knowledge and understanding of ageing processes in the animal body but also in-depth knowledge of geriatrics. Learning about clinical changes and their interpretation in senior animals, about most frequent age-related diseases in such fields as ophthalmology, cardiology, endocrinology, and orthopaedics in small animal and equine medicine by providing an insight knowledge of the principles of tthe herapy and preventive measures in the care of a geriatric patient.

Learning outcomes and their assessment

• Students know about the ageing processes in the body of an animal, about changes in the functional abilities of various organs, about the development, diagnosis and treatment of geriatric diseases and their therapeutic control.
• Students will be able to gather information and consider the peculiarities of the physiological processes of geriatric patients, recognize the most common age-related diseases, and draw up a further manipulation and treatment plan.
• Students not only will know how to diagnose and treat but also how to explain the specific pathogenesis of these diseases, analyze causal relationships, as well as offer solutions to reduce the negative consequences of these changes, maintaining the quality of life on the highest possible, that is - species-specific level.

Course Content(Calendar)

Topics of lectures and laboratory works of the first part of Gerontology:
Week 1:
Introduction to gerontology (brief history, tasks, research directions, actuality). Ageing processes in organs of the digestive and metabolic systems. (lecture 1 hr.)
The effect of the aging of the organism on the processes of food intake (laboratory work, 2 hr)
Week 2:
Physiological ageing of the musculoskeletal system. (lecture 1 hr.)
Options to influence these processes to maintain a high quality of life. (laboratory work 1hr)
Week 3:
Gerontological processes in internal organs, glands, and tissues of the nervous system (including CNS) (lecture 1 hr.) and solutions to reduce the changes in the body related to these processes. (laboratory work 2 hr)
Week 4:
Ageing processes in the organs of animal sensory systems. (lecture 1 st.)
Solutions for the preservation of the quality of life in the case of ageing organs of the sensory systems. (laboratory work 1 hr)
Week 5:
Peculiarities of gerontological processes in animal organisms of different species (lecture 1 hr.) and the possible impact of these processes on animal welfare (keeping conditions, feeding and feed additives, etc.). (laboratory work 2 hr)
Week 6:
Importance of annual quality of life assessment and preventive health check-ups of pets in evaluating the course of gerontological processes. (lecture 1 hr).
Assessment of quality of life and creation of a plan for possible problem solutions for (clinically healthy) senior pets. (laboratory work 1hr)
Week 7:
Geriatric care and welfare for senior horses. (lecture l. hr.)
Assessment of quality of life and creation of a plan for possible problem solutions for old (clinically healthy) horses. (laboratory work 2 hr)
Week 8:
Gerontology and practical veterinary medicine (guest lecturer) (lecture 1hr). Presentation of students' individual independent works. Closing discussion. (laboratory works 1 hr)

Topics of lectures and seminar classes planned for the second part of Geriatrics:
Week 1:
Selection of laboratory test profiles and interpretation of analyzes in geriatric patients (dogs and cats). (lecture 1h)
Analysis of laboratory tests (seminar) 2h
Week 2:
Ophthalmological diseases related to ageing (lecture) 1h
Analysis of clinical cases, treatment plan development (seminar) 1h
Week 3:
Pathologies of the cardiovascular system related to ageing (lecture) 1h.
Tactics of treatment of heart failure in a polymorbid patient (seminar) 1h.
Week 4:
Orthopaedic problems in geriatric dogs and cats (lecture) 1h
Analysis of clinical cases, treatment plan development (seminar) 1h
Week 5:
Diagnosis of tumours, local and systemic effects on the body 1h
Analysis of clinical cases, treatment plan development (seminar) 1h
Week 6:
Treatment options for an oncological patient 1 h
Palliative care for a patient in the terminal tumour stage, assessment of the quality of life. (seminar) 1h
Week 7:
Peculiarities of anaesthesia for geriatric dogs and cats (lecture) 1 h.
Chronic pain in a geriatric patient (seminar) 2 h.
Week 8:
The most common geriatric diseases, are their monitoring and prevention in horses. (lecture) 1h
Analysis of clinical cases, treatment plan development (seminar) 1h

Requirements for awarding credit points

In order to obtain credits, it is necessary to attend lectures and practical work in the amount of at least 80%. A topic report must be submitted for missed lectures, seminars. If more than 20% of lectures, seminars are unexcusedly missed and the report of the missed classes is not submitted, the course must be retaken.
Test at the end of the course. Passes are obtained by attending lectures and seminars and obtaining a passing grade for the assigned 4 homework assignments.

Description of the organization and tasks of students’ independent work

When studying the study course, in the first part – Gerontology (weeks 1-8 of the semester) students individually develop and defend one independent work. The student chooses the topic of the work according to his interests, prior to coordinating it with the teaching staff.

In the second - Geriatrics part (weeks 9-16 of the semester)- four homeworks will be provided in the LBTU e-study system. The teaching staff of the corresponding topic examines them and evaluates with a grade. There is an opportunity to correct a failed assessment.
Homework will be assigned on the following topics: interpretation of laboratory analysis, ophthalmology, cardiology, anesthesiology.
Pictures of a clinical case, results of laboratory analyses, video materials, and a brief medical history will be provided for homework. The student must analyze the received data, characterize its compliance or non-compliance with normality, be able to recognize pathological changes, analyze the specific case, analyze further recommendations for establishing an accurate diagnosis, draw up an action plan for further examination of the animal, and possible treatment methods. If there are significant inconsistencies in the description, the student must improve it and resend it. After preparing the full description, it should be sent electronically to the corresponding teaching staff or in e-studies. A written homework or clinical case analysis must be submitted to the responsible faculty member by the deadline.
Homework evaluation is based on the following criteria:
1. Clinical case analysis.
2. Timely submission of clinical case analysis

Criteria for Evaluating Learning Outcomes

Individual independent work and 4 homework assignments are graded with pass/fail.
The individual independent evaluation of the work is based on its quality, timely submission and defense.
Assessment of homework is based on the following criteria:
1. Quality of clinical case analysis.
2. Timely submission of clinical case analysis
To get the final grade of the study course “test” attendance of the lectures and seminars, 4 homework assignments will be evaluated

Compulsory reading

1. Davies M. Canine and Feline Geriatrics. , Wiley, 1996. , 188 p.
2. Dodman N.H., Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable. , Mariner books, 2012. , 288 p.
3. Hoskins J.D., Geriatrics and Gerontology of the Dog and Cat. 2nd Edition, 2003. , 432 p.
4. Bertone J. Equine geriatric medicine and surgery. St. Louis, Missouri: Saunders Elsevier, 2006. 263 p.
5. Ed. Maxie G. M. Jubb, Kennedy, and Palmer's Pathology of Domestic Animals. Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3. ,6th ed. , Saunders Ltd, 2016. , 2456 pp.
6. Clarke K.W., Trim C.M., Hall L.W. “Veterinary anaesthesia”. 11th edition. , Edinburgh: Saunders/Elsevier,Saunders, 2014.
7. Duke-Novakovski T., De Vries M., Seymour C., BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline “Anaesthesia and Analgesia”. third edition. , BSAVA, 2016. Pieejams e-grāmatu datubāzē eBook Collection (EBSCOhost)

Further reading

1. Gardner M. It's never long enough: A practical guide to caring for your geriatric (senior) dog, Rolled Toe Publishing, 2022. , 516 p.
2. Ireland J. L., Clegg P. D., McGowan C. M., McKane S. A., Chandler K. J., Pinchbeck G. L. Disease prevalence in geriatric horses in the United Kingdom:Veterinary clinical assessment of 200 cases. Equine Veterinary Journal, 4, 2012.

Periodicals and other sources

1. The Veterinary Journal. ISSN 1090-0233
2. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. ISSN: 00031488, 1943569X
3. Annual Review of Animal Biosciences. ISSN: 2165-8102 (print); 2165-8110 (web)
4. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. ISSN: 19391676, 08916640
5. Journal of Veterinary Pathology, ISSN: 0300-9858.
6. Journal of Comparative Pathology, ISSN 0021-9975.
7. Clinician's Brief provides relevant diagnostic and treatment information for small animal practitioners. Pieejams:
8. Datubāze PubMed. Pieejams:


An optional course of the study program Veterinary medicine