Owners of pets with chronic or terminal illnesses commonly ask veterinary professionals - how will I know when it's time? Meaning, how will they know when it is time to consider humane euthanasia to end a pet's suffering?

Most professionals are proficient in guiding and advising their clients and their recommendations are typically based on their knowledge, expertise, and individual experiences or beliefs - which introduces the possibility of personal bias. Their recommendations take into account objective information such as lab test results or findings seen on imaging (e.g. x-rays or ultrasound). However, there is a potential for a mismatch in a professional's subjective assessment of a pet's quality of life and that of the pet's owner. A systematic approach in assessing quality of life with a standardized set of questions or factors to consider would be most helpful to clinicians and pet owners. In addition, this type of instrument would be helpful in clinical research trials when evaluating and comparing treatment options for specific diseases or conditions.

Although a variety of questionnaires and survey instruments have been developed to assist veterinarians in assessing patients with various problems (pain, skin disease, diabetes mellitus, etc.) a validated quality of life indicator instrument for dogs with cancer has not been previously known to veterinary professionals.

A publication has recently reported on the components of a newly developed and validated quality of life instrument for use in dogs with cancer. It is a simple and practical questionnaire that includes 17 points for consideration when assessing quality of life. Although this instrument was developed for use in dogs with cancer, this important information can be helpful for guiding individuals when assessing the quality of life of an animal with chronic or terminal illness. Learn more about this questionnaire in our video presentation (running time: 16 mins).

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