In my last post, I talked about how you and your partner can work together to care for your senior dog.
One of the topics that I covered was talking with your partner about your dog’s health. Sadly, as senior dog owners, this often means talking about end-of-life decisions.
Making end-of-life decisions is hard. So, today I want to talk about how you can assess your senior dog’s quality of life to make the best decision for your dog.
Assessing Your Senior Dog’s Quality of Life
There is rarely a definitive answer as to whether it is the right time to put your beloved pup to sleep, but one thing that can push you in the right direction is assessing your senior dog’s quality of life.
When assessing your senior dog’s quality of life there are seven areas of life to consider and each area should be rated on a scale of 1 – 10 for your dog’s current condition. When scoring these areas of life, a dog that scores 35 points or above is likely still a good candidate for hospice care. Keep in mind, however, that you know your dog best and while this assessment can help you in your decision, you should also pay attention to your dog, your vet, and your gut.
Is your dog having trouble breathing? Breathing pain should always be a serious consideration when rating your dog’s pain.
Are they in a considerable amount of pain that cannot be adequately controlled with medications?
Are pain medications causing your dog to feel ill, uncomfortable, or experience unpleasant side effects that leave them feeling miserable?
Is your dog as interested in food as they ever were?
Are they showing a decline in appetite but still interested in their normal food?
Does your dog need coaxing to eat normal food but show interest in new foods or toppings on their food?
Does your dog still have plenty of interest in their favorite treats and special meals?
Does your dog need coaxing to eat even their favorite treats?
Does your dog show no change in their water drinking habits?
Does your dog have certain limitations that influence their ability to access water?
Is your dog showing signs of dehydration?
Does your dog need veterinary intervention to stay hydrated?
Does your dog have no trouble using the bathroom or grooming themselves?
Does your dog show some decrease in control of their bladder or bowels?
Does your dog have pressure sores from immobility?
Is your dog suffering from poor health and skin infections due to incontinence or immobility?
Is your dog as happy as they have always been?
Does your dog have periods of apathy or sadness?
Does your dog have more days of feeling dejected than of feeling happy or content?
Does your dog show no interest in activities or objects that they have always been enthusiastic about?
Is your dog just as active as they always have been?
Does your dog show some signs of slowing down due to age and arthritis?
Does your dog have periodic trouble getting up or supporting themselves when using the bathroom?
Is your dog only capable of turning over or turning around but incapable of walking without support?
Good Days Vs. Bad
Does your dog have almost all good days where they are mobile, sated, happy, and clean?
Does your dog have an even balance of days where they are happy and fully functioning versus apathetic or sad and have trouble with basic functions?
Does your dog appear to be a shell of their former self, having trouble moving, eating, drinking, and being happy?
What does your dog’s score mean? Take a look at the chart below to interpret your dog’s score. Just keep in mind that this is only supposed to serve as a guide when measuring your dog’s quality of life.