Quality of Life

Quality of life is the degree of well‐being felt by your pet.
It consists of two components: physical and psychological.

Assessing the quality of life for your pet can be difficult but here are some tools to help from the Argus Institute. With your family, answer these questions about your pet:

  • Does he eat and drink normally?
  • Is he interested in the activities around him?
  • Can he relieve himself on his own?
  • Is he withdrawn most of the time?
  • Can he move around on his own?

Keep a good day/bad day calendar.

  1. ​Evaluate what a good day would look like and what a bad day would look like for your pet
  2. Each evening, sit down and decide if it was a good or bad day by marking your calendar
  3. Decide how many bad days in a row occur before quality is compromised

Click here to download the calendar.

Create a list of the things your pet enjoys like taking a walk with you, chasing a ball, playing with other pets, scratching on a post, interacting during family time or barking at a neighbor.

As your pet loses interest in these activities, mark them off the list

Decide early on how many and which activities can go before your pet has lost too much quality from their day to day life

It can be helpful to understand the differences between pain and suffering as you are making assessments of quality in your pet’s life.

Pain is a physical and emotional sensation that can be complicated to assess. Keep in mind, a pet’s reaction to pain is dependent upon its personality and the degree of pain it’s experiencing.

Suffering is more than physical attributes and involves the ability to enjoy living life.

You can download these pain scales for dogs and cats.

Use the above tools to help decide if important qualities are diminishing or are no longer present in your pet’s life. These may help you to define what suffering would be for your pet and create a plan to prevent or limit any suffering.

Don’t forget that quality of life also refers to YOUR quality of life. It is not selfish and it is very important to think of your own needs and the needs of your family while considering everyone’s quality of life.

  • Assess and monitor your quality of life by asking yourself some of these questions:
  • Do I have extra time to spare to take care of my pet? How much time will my pet need?
  • What will the costs be to take care of my pet? What other financial responsibilities do I have?
  • Are there other stresses and obligations in my life right now?
  • Is there anyone who can help me?
  • Other than my pet and myself, who else do I need to consider? Am I being thoughtful of my family and other pets?
  • What other obligations do I have?

Assessing your own life does not diminish the love or care you are giving to your pet, but rather emphasizes which priorities need to be tended to and in which order. While it can be very hard to make difficult decisions based on financial or other limitations, it is important to take care of yourself and also remember that you have done and are still doing the best that you can for your pet.

Defining "Quality of Life”

Quality of Life Scale for Dogs

Pain Scale for Dogs

Quality of Life Scale for Cats

Pain Scale for Cats

Quality of Life Calendar

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