Older pet and owner
The primary caregiver is often better placed to determine quality of life than their vet. Image ©iStock.com/Halfpoint.

Owners will often ask me to view the quality of life of pet companions nearing the end of their days. This is something I’ve often struggled with, as the primary caregivers are often better placed than I am within the confines of a 10 to 15-minute consultation.

I had the pleasure/honour of becoming the first person to buy Alice Villalobos’ book on canine and feline oncology at a veterinary conference a number of years ago. I know I was the first person because the author, on the stand, told me so – and we have been friends ever since.

Alice introduced me to the HHHHHMM Quality of Life Scale, which equates to: Hurt”, “Hunger”, “Hydration”, “Hygiene”, “Happiness”, “Mobility” and “More Good Days than Bad”. I have found the scale invaluable when discussing with owners at a difficult time.

While a subjective element remains with any such scale, I find it invaluable in guiding a discussion. Full details are available in Alice’s book (Villalobos, 2007)

Villalobos A, with Kaplan L (2007). Canine and Feline Geriatric Oncology, Blackwell Publishing.

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