F_JUL15_vet-old-dogEuthanasia has been prominent in the headlines this month following the court case and passing of Wellington lawyer Lecretia Seales

Of course thankfully in the veterinary world, the issues are far less complex and we are able to terminate an animal’s suffering. However decisions are still not made easily and knowing when the time is right is difficult. Often there may be more we can do to improve a pet’s quality of life with pain relief and supportive care.

As vets we are often asked our opinion on the quality of life of older dogs or cats nearing the end of their days. However more often than not the pet’s owners are far better placed to make this assessment.

Recently I came across the HHHHHMM Quality of Life Scale, It equates to:

  • Hurt
  • Hunger
  • Hydration
  • Hygiene
  • Happiness
  • Mobility and
  • More Good Days than Bad

It introduces the concept of subjective parameters as well as the more obvious physical ones. In other words it’s much more than ‘is my dog in pain?’

‘Happiness’ and ‘more good days than bad’ are factors an animal’s owner or care giver are best able to observe. And I think that most owners will know intuitively when the time is right. Sad though it may be, euthanasia is a release from pain and indignity. We can then remember our pets during their happier times.