Veterinarians Develop Tool to Evaluate Quality of Life in Pets
When it comes to making critical care decisions, committed pet parents have asked that dreaded question for years: “When is it time to let my beloved pet pass on?” In an effort to assist you in answering that question, Tufts veterinary school has developed a “Quality of Life” measurement tool that will guide you through the evaluation process with your veterinarian.
Known as “FETCH” (Functional Evaluation of Cardiac Health) and “CATCH” (Cats’ Assessment Tool for Cardiac Health), these surveys ask owners to rank aspects of their dog’s or cat’s health on a scale of 0 to 5. Veterinarians are then able to assess the animal’s perceived quality of life, which may inform decisions and open discussion about treatment, nutrition or possibly euthanasia.
While the tool was initially created to assist in evaluation of quality of life for cats with cardiac disease, veterinarians and pet parents will find the tool useful for other illnesses as well.
“Studies have indicated that pet owners value quality of life much more than longevity in their animals,” said Professor of Clinical Sciences Lisa M. Freeman, board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition . “We want our dogs and cats to have happy lives, and we believe this tool is helpful in evaluating whether our pets still do.”
The survey tools were developed by Freeman and Professor of Clinical Sciences John E. Rush, board-certified cardiologist and criticalist at the veterinary school’s Foster Hospital for Small Animals. Freeman and Rush set out to create and evaluate a tool for pets similar to the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire, one of the most widely used evaluation tools in human cardiology. The work on the tools will continue to measure their responsiveness to medical treatment and create a clinical and research tool for clinicians, Freeman said.
For additional information, visit the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University: Founded in 1978 in North Grafton, Mass., Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University is internationally esteemed for academic programs that impact society and the practice of veterinary medicine; three hospitals and two clinics that combined log more than 80,000 animal cases each year; and groundbreaking research that benefits animal, public, and environmental health.