Calculate your Pet's Quality of Life
Use the following scale as an estimate of your pet’s quality of life1. Score your pet for each of the seven signs below, using a scale of 1 to 10; 10 being ideal. Compare the scale at different times of day, as many pets do better in the day than in the evening. In addition, have multiple pet caregivers use the scale as well and then discuss your results with each other, and then with your veterinarian or Dr. Berkshire.
- HURT – Adequate pain control, including breathing ability, is first and foremost on the scale. Is the pet’s pain successfully managed? Is oxygen necessary?
- HUNGER – Is the pet eating enough? Does hand feeding help? Does the patient require a feeding tube?
- HYDRATION – Is the patient dehydrated? For patients not drinking enough, use subcutaneous fluids once or twice daily to supplement fluid intake.
- HYGIENE – The patient should be brushed and cleaned, particularly after elimination. Avoid pressure sores and keep all wounds clean.
- HAPPINESS – Does the pet express joy and interest? Is the pet responsive to things around him or her (family, toys, etc.)? Is the pet depressed, lonely, anxious, bored or afraid? Can the pet’s bed be close to family activities and not be isolated?
- MOBILITY – Can the patient get up without assistance? Does the pet need human or mechanical help (ie. a cart)? Does the pet feel like going for a walk? Is the pet having seizures or stumbling? (Some caregivers feel euthanasia is preferable to amputation, yet an animal who has limited mobility but is still alert and responsive can have a good quality of life as long as caregivers are committed to helping the pet.)
- MORE GOOD DAYS THAN BAD – When bad days outnumber good days, quality of life might be compromised. When a healthy human-animal bond is no longer possible, the caregiver must be made aware the end is near. The decision needs to be made if the pet is suffering. If death comes peacefully and painlessly, that is okay.
Your Pet's Quality of Life Score
*A total of 35 or greater suggests that your pet has a good quality of life.
Please use this scale only as a guideline, and discuss the findings with your veterinarian for a more accurate determination and to review options for your pet’s continued care.
1Adapted by Villolobos, A.E., Quality of Life Scale Helps Make Final Call, VPN, 09/2004, for Canine and Feline Geriatric Oncology Honoring the Human-Animal Bond, by Blackwell Publishing, Table 10.1, released 2006.