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I developed this Quality of Life Scale after hundreds of conversations over the years with pet owners and their families making the decision to euthanize their pet.
What is a quality of life scale and how is it used?
Pet quality of life scales are used to determine on a numeric basis how your pet is feeling. A QOL quiz helps you address different variables in your pet’s life to assess their overall comfort and happiness. Quality of life scales are typically used when a pet has a terminal illness or is at an end of life stage. A terminal illness is one where the pet will not be cured or recover, but perhaps can be managed so the pet is comfortable. Treatments at this point are focused on palliative care- helping with pain, nausea, nutrition, hydration, and mobility- but not on curing the pet. Quality of life scales can help the family decide when it is time to let the pet go.
Sometimes, after the discussion, people realize that their pet is enjoying life, and they still have time left with their pet. Other times, people realize their pets are suffering more than they were aware, so they choose the final act of caring. In either case, the JOURNEYS scale is meant to get you thinking and considering the factors that affect your pet’s happiness and sense of well-being.
There are no hard and fast rules, although in general a higher score is better.
- A score of 80 is a happy, healthy pet!
- A score of 8 is a pet that is suffering. A low score on any of the measures may be a reason to consider euthanasia.
A low score on any one of the variables may be a reason to consider euthanasia if the pet’s score cannot be raised. An example of this would be a pet that is still eating and drinking, but has pain that cannot be controlled even with pain medications. Another example is a pet that scores 10 socially but has difficulty breathing. We purposely do not give a score to consider euthanasia, because every pet, situation, and family is unique. You should consider your pet’s individual personality and needs when making the difficult decision.
Please use this as a starting place to explore your pet’s quality of life, and address your concerns with your veterinarian. I am available to discuss your pet too: Call or Email Dr. Katie
Eight variables for you to consider:
The JOURNEYS scale addresses eight variables you can use to determine your pet’s quality of life. Many people will use the scale daily or weekly to see how their pet is doing, and compare the results to see how well the pet has been doing over time. Different family members can take the scale independently and compare results. These discussions can be helpful in getting consensus on how to move forward. It is important to use a quality of life scale as part of a hospice plan for the pet.