By now you have probably heard the term “quality of life” spoken by your regular veterinarian or others close to you. This can be very subjective terminology and is highly dependent on the disease process your dog or cat is experiencing, your pet’s personality, and your personal beliefs.
Just like humans, every pet will experience and react to changes in their body differently. This is also highly dependent on the disease process at hand, which is why in-depth discussions with your regular veterinarian are so important. For example, the decision to euthanize a Yorkie with congestive heart failure will need to be made before painful symptoms (such as difficulty breathing) arise. Alternatively, an older Labrador with arthritis can be maintained at home with adequate pain management for an extended amount of time. It’s important to understand the disease process your pet is experiencing in order to properly evaluate the quality of life.
The handouts in the Education - Common Diseases section of our website have more information on specific changes you should be looking for with specific medical conditions.
Having trouble assessing the quality of life for your own pet? Watch this video from Dr. Mary for ways to help.
Please watch this video excerpt from Dr. Dani McVety explaining the questions pet owners have during the end of life experience: