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Assessing Your Pet’s Quality of Life

pet wellness assessment


Pets add so much joy and companionship to the lives of the people who love them that it is painful to imagine a time when they won’t be around.

Unfortunately, illness, disease, and old age are all factors that impact an animal’s life. As a pet nears the end of its life, hard and often heartbreaking decisions must be made.

When should you say goodbye to a pet in declining health? Should you let your pet pass away naturally? One way to make a difficult decision is by judging your pet’s quality of life.

When you look at a pet’s quality of life, you are considering how much your pet is suffering and the effects age or medical issues are having on how it is living.


Determining Quality of Life

Veterinarians often suggest using a pets quality of life scale to help people make serious end-of-life decisions. A common quality of life scale for pets is called the HHHHHMM Scale.

This scale assesses seven criteria and was developed by Dr. Alice Villalobos. Each of these criteria are assessed and given a score on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest quality of life.


Is your pet’s pain controlled, and are there breathing difficulties? It is often hard to determine if dogs or cats are in pain, but it is important that pain is well-managed.

Some common clues that a pet may be in pain include excessive vocalization, changes in breathing, difficulty resting, or increased aggression.


It is important that pets get proper nutrition, but both age and illness can make it difficult for a pet to maintain an appetite or keep their food down.

This can cause extreme weight loss and weakness. Does your pet have an appetite? Has the vet tried changing medications?

Is a feeding tube needed to feed your pet, and is it helping?


Is your pet staying hydrated? Drinking insufficient amounts of water is a common cause of dehydration, but pets that are vomiting or have diarrhea are also at risk.

In addition, take into consideration whether your pet may benefit from supplemental fluid intake.


Older and ill pets may have problems with incontinence that could cause skin infections if they are not regularly cleaned.

Pressure sores may also develop if pets have difficulty moving. Are you able to keep your pet clean and groomed?

Is your pet able to groom itself?


Your pet’s emotional well-being is as important as its health. Take into consideration whether your pet shows excitement or recognition around people it is familiar with.

If engaged, is it able to or interested in play? Is your pet listless or easily disturbed?


Some pets may no longer have the ability to move around as they once did. Pain or weakness may prevent them from going up stairs or taking walks.

In severe cases, a pet may even have difficulty moving to their food and water. When using the quality of life scale for pets, ask yourself if age or illness is hindering your pet’s mobility and to what degree.

Is there a fixable remedy for its mobility issues?

More Good Days Than Bad

Ideally, one wants their elderly or sick pet to have more good days than bad. Unfortunately, there may come a time when one’s pet routinely experiences more bad days than good.

This is one of the greatest indicators that your pet’s quality of life has diminished and its suffering has magnified.


How Pet Insurance Can Help

Don’t let the high cost of veterinary care prevent you from giving your pet the medical attention needed to treat illness or old age.

While the pets quality of life scale is an important tool in determining end-of-life issues, proper health care will help reduce suffering and may even help prolong your pet’s life.

Pet insurance covers a range of services and can help make pet care more affordable by reimbursing you for a percentage of the costs. can assist you in finding the best insurance by making it simple to compare all of the leading pet insurance companies and their policies in one place.

Don’t wait until your pet has reached old age or developed problems to buy insurance: Get free insurance quotes to compare rates by completing our easy online form today.


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