Quality of life assessment

At all times, both the veterinarian and owner need to evaluate the basic needs of ill patients and assess their quality of life.  A convenient way to do this can be the HHHHHMM Quality of life scale.  These stand for: hurt, hunger, hydration, hygiene, happiness, mobility and more good days than bad.

Does your pet have an appetite?  Eating is a basic part of life and a lack of interest in this can indicate a degree of illness and a loss of interest in life.  How is your pet’s mobility?  Is there constant pain or exhaustion that treatment can no longer help?  Is your pet interactive and response and interested in the family and its surroundings?  Can he/she sleep comfortably?  Is your pet still having more good days than bad?  Has the difficulty of caring for a sick or older pet becoming a strain on the family?  Is your pet getting enjoyment out of life or is your pet’s life seriously and permanently compromised without any possibility of betterment?

Some animals may pass away on their own, but a “natural death” is not always feasible or fair to the pet.   The presence of unrelenting pain that cannot be adequately managed through Western or Eastern medical care and the loss of a healthy interactive human-animal bond may necessitate the decision for euthanasia.  Maintaining a quality of life is important for people and pets and while it is not yet a choice for people, it is an option for pets. Making the decision and letting go of a beloved friend and company is never easy and there are some considerations to make a caring choice for your ill or aged pet.  It is a difficult decision as a pet owner doesn’t want to make the decision too soon when the pet is still enjoying life.  But the decision shouldn’t be made too late when the pet has started to suffer.   The hardest question for every pet owner is “When is it time to say goodbye? Are we continuing to treat and manage the pet for the pet’s sake or because my/our inability to let go? ”