Effectively managing chronic conditions in pets - Veterinary Practice
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InFocus

Effectively managing chronic conditions in pets

Many innovations affecting the veterinary sector can help veterinarians manage chronic conditions more effectively by adopting a more proactive approach to such cases

Chronic conditions are a fact of life, for both humans and animals. According to one recent report published by Statista, 34 of 100 cats and 31 of 100 dogs seen at Banfield Hospitals in 2017 were either overweight or obese (Elflein, 2019).

Obesity is one of the leading causes of many chronic conditions among animals. Some of these include urinary disorders, cardiorespiratory disease, reproductive disorders, dermatological diseases, neoplasia (mammary tumours, transitional cell carcinoma) and chronic pain.

These facts suggest that chronic diseases may very well be on the rise in animals and steps should be taken to ensure that they are monitored from time to time for their better management. So what can we do?

Leverage technological solutions to monitor changing patterns

Technological innovation has made exceptional strides on both human and animal care fronts, so much so that the adoption of technology looks promising in ensuring robust chronic disease management and placing more power with caretakers so they can manage the health of their animals better.

The adoption of technology looks promising in ensuring robust chronic disease management and placing more power with caretakers so they can manage the health of their animals better

“By seamlessly connecting veterinarians across specialties, care teams, pet parents and their animals, these state-of-the-art tech innovations hold the potential to monitor treatment adherence, track changing patterns in the patient’s vitals on a frequent basis, cut down costs of care and work in endless other ways to augment chronic disease management,” says Erin Downes, practice owner at Paoli Vetcare.

Although there are innumerable tech-enabled chronic disease management options available in the animal care market today, some of the most effective ones would be:

Telemedicine

Telemedicine, when used in conjunction with remote patient monitoring (RPM) technology, can help vets manage chronic diseases in their patients and ameliorate outcomes in many ways.

Veterinary care providers can easily use live video and audio features, mobile devices and other smart digital tools to track their patient’s well-being even from a distance, lowering the need for face-to-face consultations when treating less serious cases.

mHealth apps

Next up, mobile health apps, commonly known as mHealth apps, can be another effective solution when it comes to managing chronic conditions in animals today.

When integrated with wearable technology, these apps can easily produce essential metrics with respect to the animal’s vitals and help veterinarians decide on the further line of treatment, or if the existing treatment module needs to be altered.

These apps can easily produce essential metrics with respect to the animal’s vitals and help veterinarians decide on the further line of treatment, or if the existing treatment module needs to be altered

The data from an mHealth app can easily be stored on a dedicated cloud server to boost interoperability and make it readily available at a later time in case the patient’s history needs to be assessed by the vet or their care team.

Wearable devices

One of the core strengths of wearable technology is its potential to congregate and monitor real-time biometric data such as blood pressure, blood oxygenation, heart rate, physical activity level and sleep, among other vital health metrics.

All this data can greatly help veterinary practitioners in deciding upon the course of treatment to follow. It can also keep the patient’s condition from deteriorating further by picking up on abnormalities early on.

Focus on a proactive care approach rather than a reactive one

Most pet parents see a veterinarian only when their pet’s condition worsens and not when they are showing the first signs of abnormal health.

An ounce of prevention is indeed worth a pound of cure. Rather than reacting when a crisis has already occurred, it would be far more effective to avert a health crisis altogether with a proactive approach.

Having said that, the shift to a more proactive approach is definitely underway. With veterinary science’s evolution towards more value-based, digital and patient-centric delivery models, the signs of easier and swift access to medical information are everywhere. We just need to learn how to harness them.

The data gathered through wearables can easily be monitored and studied by both veterinarians and pet parents alike to track the pet’s condition

The increased use of pet wearables would be one obvious example of this (Vailshery, 2021). The data gathered through wearables can easily be monitored and studied by both veterinarians and pet parents alike to track the pet’s condition.

For instance, some wearable devices are able to track changes in pet behaviour and movement, detecting changes which could be cause for concern. This allows veterinarians to investigate and detect early signs of disease, which is often crucial to treat conditions and ensure animal welfare is upheld.

Wearable technology only truly scratches the surface of the endless options available out there when it comes to proactive care. Veterinarians should be on the constant lookout for trustworthy educational resources and keep themselves updated with the latest happenings on the tech front to be able to help their patients in a better way.

Veterinarians should be on the constant lookout for trustworthy educational resources and keep themselves updated with the latest happenings on the tech front to be able to help their patients in a better way

This information can also be shared with clients, leaving them with a greater sense of empowerment, and they will actively contribute towards monitoring the well-being of their pet.

Remember, managing a chronic condition is an ongoing process and requires both effort and patience from all the individuals involved.

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