Why We Assess

Evaluating a pet’s quality-of-life is essential to ensure their well-being and make informed decisions about their care, particularly when facing terminal illness or aging. This assessment helps determine the best course, whether it’s hospice care or saying goodbye.

Assessing Your Pet’s Quality-of-Life

There are many tools out there to help you assess your pet’s quality-of-life (QOL). These assessments consider the variables in your pet’s life regarding comfort, happiness, and sense of well-being.  Some people don’t care for quality-of-life tools but instead use a calendar to monitor the general vibe or feelings for the day. Quality-of-life tools are typically used when a pet has a terminal illness or is in general decline associated with the aging process.

It may not be possible or practical to treat a disease, but perhaps we can help the pet by focusing on palliative or hospice care, addressing symptoms or issues that adversely affect the pet’s and family’s quality of life. It is important to assess quality-of-life as part of an end-of-life assessment for determining what would be best for your pet. Should we provide hospice care, or is it time to say goodbye?

Families can use the Gentle Journey QOL Tool or any other one you prefer, on a daily, weekly, or as-needed basis to monitor their pet. Sometimes do it in the morning, sometimes score it later in the evening — circadian rhythms might give you different scores. Sometimes people have a different perspective on how the pet is doing, so having different family members or trusted friends do the evaluation and compare their results can help in decision-making, particularly if members of the family feel differently beforehand. Discussing the results of a quality-of-life scale can provide clarity and consensus in order to help their pet. Eventually, when there is “nothing more we can do,” we can still assist the family and their pet by providing the final act of loving care to send them onward in their journey.

It is reasonable to consider euthanasia if a problem cannot be addressed. Some conditions can suddenly become a crisis; others are more of a slow decline. An example of this would be a pet suffering from respiratory distress due to heart failure that no longer responds to medication vs. a pet that still wags their tail or greets you with a meow when you come in the room, but has such pain or impaired mobility that they do not want to or cannot get up to interact with their family, even with appropriate medical assistance, such as pain medication, palliative treatments, or mobility aids.

To better make this determination for your pet, please proceed to the Quality-Of-Life Tool and our explanation for using the Calendar.

Quality-of-Life Assessment Tools