As veterinarians, we are asked by pet owners to assess the quality of life of a pet each time we do an examination. There
are references available to assists the profession as well as the pet owners. Most life assessment tools are meant to be used
a guideline and should be flexible to take into consideration the pet's needs and the pet owners ability to provide supportive
When lending advice for pet owners, it is important to take into account their psychosocial interpretation of the situation
when applying any quality of life scale. Examples of psychosocial concerns include a pet owner's experience with past medical
experiences, their belief in euthanasia, and whether or not hospitalization is an option for the treatment of a condition.
One of the first quality of life scales for veterinarians was created by Dr. Alice Villalobos. The name of her scale is "HHHHHMM,"
which stands for "Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Hygiene, Happiness, Mobility and More good days than bad days. Each parameter has
a score of 0-10 and a set of questions for the veterinarian to share with the pet owner. A score over 5 is acceptable for
an adequate quality of life.
In The Handbook of Veterinary Pain Management, authors Wiseman-Orr, Reid, Nolan and Scott review the Quick Assessment of Quality
of Life from McMillan's article in the Journal of AAHA. In addition, Yazbeck and Fantoni's from JAVMA's article is discussed
that deals with pain secondary to cancer. Karnofsky's Score Modified for Cats is also reviewed. This scale has a separate
questionnaire for pet owners and veterinarians. Scoring systems are assigned in all of these scales to help assess quality
A study was conducted by Oyama, Rush, O'Sullivan, et al on dog owners' perception of quality versus quantity of life for dogs
with heart disease. The results concluded that quality of life was highly important and that the owner's priorities were partly
based on their age and the clinical circumstance.
As part of a wellness exam, consider sending clients home with a health check list to do monthly assessments between veterinary
visits. The goal is to give them a tool that should help them stay current with their pets pet's health, comfort, and emotional
well-being between veterinary visits.
During lecture, detailed looks at each quality of life assessment technique will be covered.