Helping Pet Owners Make Tough Choices

-Perhaps the hardest part of owning a pet is making difficult decisions when a beloved companion becomes seriously ill.

Development of a survey instrument to assess health-related quality of life in small animal cancer patients treated with chemotherapy

That's why Michigan State University researchers are developing a new tool to help people assess their ailing pets' quality of life, a key factor in decisions about when to order life-prolonging procedures and when an animal's suffering means it's time to let go. In a new paper in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, MSU researchers describe a survey they created to help pet owners monitor
the quality of life of dogs undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

Veterinarians can use their training, experience and scientific knowledge to objectively assess an animal's quality of life in response to treatment, said lead author Maria Iliopoulou, an MSU-trained veterinarian and a doctoral student in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies. But outside the vet's office, pet owners rely on their own subjective impressions of the animal's well-being. "Dogs obviously can't tell you how they're feeling, and sometimes pet owners may not know what changes in canine behavior they should pay attention to," Iliopoulou said. "By having this tool, we can help owners see what's really going on with the animal to improve decision making and facilitate the human-animal bond under the challenging circumstances of cancer diagnosis and treatment." 


In this study involving 29 dogs undergoing chemotherapy for a variety of neoplastic conditions, a QOL survey instrument developed by the authors was found to be easy to use and reportedly enhanced client perceptions of patient care and clinician concerns. Multiple regression analysis indicated 3 significant predictors of canine cancer patient QOL: play behaviors, signs of illness, and canine happiness as perceived by owners.
Source: Sciencedaily
Image: www.petside.com
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