Quality of Life Assessment
Quality of life (QOL) assessments are a valuable tool when considering veterinary hospice or euthanasia for your pet. QOL assessments are useful in guiding future care, giving better objective feedback through numerical scoring, and helping to decide when humane euthanasia is appropriate.
Use the following factors listed below to help assess your pet’s QOL. Periodic QOL assessments by you (as well as those in your home who are close to the pet) can help ensure that your beloved pet is being cared for properly. Use this chart daily to keep track of your pet’s QOL and progress. You can add categories that pertain to your pet’s particular situation, such as Respiratory Rate’ if your pet suffers from heart failure or lung cancer.
Score using a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being "perfect" and 1 being "very bad"
After completing the assessment, consult Dr. Christina or your regular veterinarian about results.
Quality of Life Scale: The HHHHHMM Scale
1-10 HURT - Adequate pain control, including breathing ability, is first and foremost on the scale. Is the pet's pain successfully managed? Is oxygen necessary?
1-10 HUNGER - Is your pet eating enough? Does hand feeding help? Does your pet require a feeding tube?
1-10 HYDRATION - Is your pet dehydrated? For pets' not drinking enough, subcutaneous fluids may be an option.
1-10 HYGIENE - Is your pet grooming normally? Are there any pressure sores or wounds that need attention?
1-10 HAPPINESS - Is your pet express joy and interest? Is your pet responsive to things around him or her (family, toys, etc.)? Is your pet depressed, lonely, anxious, bored or afraid? Can your pet's bed be close to the family activities and not be isolated?
1-10 MOBILITY - Can your pet get up and move around without assistance? Does your pet need human or mechanical help (e.g., a cart)? Does your pet feel like going for a walk? Is your pet having seizures or stumbling? (Some caregivers feel euthanasia is preferable to amputation, yet a pet 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.)
1-10 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.
*TOTAL= *A total over 35 points represents acceptable life quality
Adapted by Villalobos, 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