Pet Quality Of Life Opens Eyes5 min read
WHAT IS QUALITY OF LIFE?
Everyone talks about quality of life in one way or the other. We use the term to describe living in a particular city. Quality of life in a city might involve access to the theater and the arts. It might mean living in a university town. It might mean living in a big city with access to a 1000 bars and night clubs. The point is, is that what one person calls a great quality of life might be interpreted by another as being a living hell.
Pet quality of life is a totally different perspective on the type of quality of life described above. Another twist of this will show some similarities though. A Labrador Retriever would consider it heaven swimming in a pond all day while a Shih-Tzu would dream of being carried around or sleeping on a sofa. Each animal should have the right to live its life in the most fulfilling, loving and healthy environment as possible. Pet quality of life is much more than the things that an animal enjoys doing.
I have mentioned many times that pets are very similar to young children. Neither can care for themselves and depend on others to provide needs for their lives to flourish. Quality of life is providing: shelter, food, water, exercise, veterinary care and a family or individual that loves and values them. Dogs and cats are very perceptive. Outside of physical needs for living, pets require or demand very little from their owners. What they give back is unconditional love.
WHEN DOGS AND CATS LACK PET QUALITY OF LIFE
The lack of pet quality of life can be broken down into two distinct types. The first is a deprivation of even the most basic needs of life. The other is seen when medical conditions make life just an existence or miserable, at best. Just existing is not a happy life. I am sure most people would not want to live that way.
Many animals are not fortunate to have a happy home. Too many animals are homeless or abused. Their physical needs are not even close to being met and the pet quality of life suffers. Animals in a humane society or shelter at least have a roof over their heads but still suffer from overcrowding. The spread of infectious diseases is common due to the overcrowded conditions. The fact is that the majority of animals are relatively young. Many have never been vaccinated against the most basic of canine or feline infectious diseases. Add to that their immature immune systems and you can understand why disease is always a threat in those situations.
Animals can also suffer a degregation in the pet quality of life even when they are living in a home. Dogs that are chained up with or without a dog house or lack of shelter do not have the greatest pet quality of life. I wrote in a previous article that it is extremely inhumane to chain up animals. Many of these dogs are not provided shelter for inclement weather. Their food and water bowls go empty. On top of that owners do not take the animals to a veterinarian for the most basic of care. I dealt with this too many times in my practice and often hoped that these individuals didn’t have children. Many times they did.
The second type of degregation of pet quality of life is when an ill animal cannot live anymore with constant suffering or pain. This is the most common discussion when you read about quality of life issues on the internet. When a disease progresses in a pet and nothing more can be done it is important to consider all your options. My decisions were all based on what was best for the dog or cat. I NEVER euthanized an animal for an owner’s personal convenience. That does not mean that I was never asked. I was, many times, and asked them politely to leave the office.
If a medical condition could not be stabilized and the animal was suffering I recommended that the animal be put down. Being forced to live an existence: in pain, an inability to get up and go outside to void or unable to eat or drink is inhumane. Many times where these decisions have to be made rapidly are in those animals suffering from irreversible internal bleeding issues after being struck by a car. Those are the hardest situations for most people because they do not have the luxury of time to help them decide what they want to do.
Pet owners often choose to take their pet home and think it over for a few days but have already decided to have their pet put down. Even in these lingering moments, veterinarians are able to use fluids, pain killers and other medical tools to make the pet quality of life as positive as possible in the final days of a pet’s life. I wrote about this and more in euthanasia. When it comes down to it, it really is all about quality of life.