Part of effective veterinary care is coming to a clear understanding for your pet’s quality of life. While most pet lovers have an intuitive understanding of their pet’s well being, it can help to have some practical tools to help in this process.
It is important to pet caregivers that there be some sort of measurement of quality of life (QOL). The pain scales most often used are the Colorado State University Veterinary Medical Center Acute and Chronic Pain Scales for dogs and cats. These show illustrations of pets in varying stages of pain. However, these scales only address pain as a factor in the pet’s ability to enjoy life. There is no measurement of mental well-being to accompany the discussion of the ability of the pet to enjoy life.
The QOL scale scale by Dr. Alice Villalobos attempts to more fully address these aspects of your pet’s life. This scale gives a numerical score of the pet’s happiness and a score of “more good days than bad.” To help pet owners to better understand these area, two forms will be left with our clients to fill during our first hospice and palliative care visit.
When assessing your pet, it is difficult to be objective, and you are bound to have doubts. These assessments provide a useful measuring stick to compare your pet to on a daily basis. How is their attitude today? Did they come to greet you, wag their tail, purr, or otherwise looks like they are having a good day? Or did they stay withdrawn, not evidencing any joy when they saw you? Are they eating and drinking? Are they eliminating normally? Are they able to move enough to prevent sores from forming on their body? Compared to how they were two weeks ago, are they better, worse, or maintaining equilibrium?
We are here to help you to better understand the later stages of your pet’s life. We can do a lot to maintain a good quality of life, and keep them as an integral part of your family for as long as possible. When they are no longer enjoying life, and you are feeling that their time with you is ending, we are also here to help. We can offer guidance, palliative medications, environmental suggestions, and, when you all are ready, we can offer hospice and euthanasia or hospice supported natural death, in your home, where they feel comfortable, safe and loved.