5 Guidelines to Assessing Your Senior Pet’s Quality of Life

As your pet ages, you probably do not want to think about their life coming to an end. However, knowing what signs to watch for can ease the inevitable, since you know your senior pet is telling you it’s time. Although remaining objective when assessing your senior pet’s quality of life (QOL) can be challenging, quality-of-life evaluations can help. Our team has put together some guidelines that you can follow to evaluate your senior pet’s happiness and health.

#1: Evaluate your senior pet’s comfort level

Discomfort and pain drastically reduce your pet’s QOL, especially if they get little relief. Cancer, nausea, or an orthopedic condition (e.g., osteoarthritis) can cause considerable discomfort, and medications and alternative therapies that can help alleviate your pet’s pain may stop working. Pain signs in pets can include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Depression
  • Rapid respiratory rate or excessive panting
  • Irritable behavior
  • Seclusion
  • Refusal to participate in normal activities
  • Overgrooming the affected area

If your pet is displaying painful signs, talk to our All Creatures Animal Hospital veterinarian about trying different therapies. Acupuncture, chiropractic, laser therapy, hydrotherapy, and many other treatment modalities exist that can ease discomfort, and a multimodal pain management protocol can be highly effective.

#2: Determine how well your senior pet is eating

Since older pets often have medical conditions that sap their strength and affect body functions, proper nutrition is essential. However, getting them to eat can be challenging. Many senior pets suffer with dental disease, which can make chewing difficult, so stay on top of your pet’s oral health throughout their life to ensure painful gingivitis and periodontal problems do not become an issue.

In other cases, a chronic disease, such as from kidney failure or inappetence from pancreatitis, can mean your pet is not interested in food, and lead to weight loss. Coercing your pet to eat a healthy amount is challenging—you can try switching diets and incorporating canned food or home cooking, but if that does not work, your pet may need to be syringe-fed or fed through a feeding tube.

#3: See if your senior pet still enjoys their normal activities

If your dog has always loved nothing more than a game of fetch or a car ride with the windows down, but now refuses to get up off their bed, they may be nearing the end. Your cat may avoid your lap, where they once spent many hours purring and being petted, but now prefers to hide under the bed. When your pet’s QOL is declining, they no longer find joy in their everyday activities. Instead of interacting with family and participating in their normal activities, like walking, playing, or being petted, your pet may seem listless and depressed and begin isolating themselves.

#4: Have your veterinarian assess your senior pet’s health

Your senior pet should undergo a thorough physical exam and evaluation to know their health status, and know whether they have any medical problems that will affect their daily life. Also, you will be prepared, because you know the issues to expect, and how the condition may progress. Furthermore, when you visit your All Creatures Animal Hospital veterinarian, you can ask any questions about how to best manage your pet’s health, and how to assess their QOL at home.

#5: Tally up the good days and the bad days

Above all, determine whether your pet is having more good days than bad. Does your pet still want to play and interact with the family? Can you usually coax them into eating by adding their favorite canned food? Are they still mobile and able to get around comfortably? Determine each day whether your pet had a good day. Later, as your pet’s QOL begins to decline, you may find only good moments in each day, with the bad outweighing the happy times. 

Assessing your senior pet’s QOL can be a difficult, heartbreaking task. Don’t try alone—lean on our All Creatures Animal Hospital team to help evaluate your pet’s health and happiness as they near their final days. Give us a call to schedule an evaluation.

By |2022-12-09T02:55:08+00:00December 6th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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