Hi! currently my little Chester is struggling to fight against hepatic liver disease. He’s my best friend, my baby. I just would NOT be me without him, he’s my life and he goes with me everywhere, he’s even moved across the world with me. He has to go to the vet twice a day to get a two hour IV along with multiple shots per visit.  He will have to be on two types of medication for the rest of his life and it’s just so expensive for us right now because we’ve payed thousands and thousands on him just this week, I’m just in need of a little help. I feel like I can only turn to your foundation for promotion of his fundraiser. So maybe if you could share his gofundme page on your blog along with his story, or at least write his story and ask for prayers and post the link.

Thank you so much!

October 10, 2015 by Lisa  
Filed under Blog

Tribute to Coco

Goodbye Sweet Coco

On February 16th 2011 I wrote a blog-post…saying goodbye to our Labrador Bonnie

Nowhere in my mind did I ever consider that just over 4 years later I would be writing this about Coco who entered our lives on August 3rd 2011. A replacement for Bonnie? Never…a new little character to bring light to our lives and fun? Very much so…

Having gone through the trauma of losing Bonnie so quickly you would think that life would deal you a gentler hand the next time you opened your heart and home to a little ball of canine goodness…Yet here I am today, just over 48 hours after losing Coco once again writing this down as a way of getting my head around what has happened and maybe in this case giving a small heads up to other Spaniel owners about an issue that for all the time I had Coco I had never once read about but in the last two days have read much.

Through all the trials of the past four years I had Coco, she very rarely left my side, she was always happy, always wagging her tail, always thrilled to see people with a special welcome always reserved for the Tesco delivery driver who each week appeared and brought the bag with the dog treats in it…a bag she always found very quickly.

She was just a fun wee thing to have around, she liked her snooze time, disappearing under a chair for added protection as she slept, and despite the daily routine of her hiding when she saw me putting on my shoes for walkies time once the harness was on she launched herself into her outdoor world like any dog does.

Because she had been raised as a pup in suburban Edinburgh the time she spent off the lead was limited, both for her protection and that of those around her…as 20 odd rugby players training in Saughton Park found out one day as Coco decided to use the mass of running bodies coming towards her as a game of doggy skittles as she ran headlong into them leading to hefty male bodies going in all directions and Coco emerging from the rear of the pack oblivious to the chaos she had caused.

That was Coco…just a fun wee girl to have around…

It never seemed to bother her that I kept her on a long lead when walking, she would have chased anything just to play, but usually where other dogs were concerned it was the owners she wanted to talk to not the dogs.

And so life plodded on, and then a few weeks ago she started to have the odd bout of diarrhea, not prolonged or enough to think it was anything other than maybe an upset stomach caused by the latest thing she had decided to pick up when out, something all dog owners can relate to.

Then last Monday night i noticed for the first time that her stools were darker, on Tuesday night they were starting to resemble tar and on Wednesday morning she began to combine the tarry substance with diarrhea and it was obvious that something wasn’t right. Her body started to look a bit bloated, and whilst she was always a heavier dog right from being a pup her weight was always in the range the Vet gave me back in 2011 as a guide and depending on exercise it went up and down. I had recently thought it was a bit high and had started a longer walking regime for her to get it back to mid-range which meant she needed to lose about half a kilo.

Upon seeing what had been passed on Wednesday morning I kept a sample and arranged to get her seen by the Vet on Wednesday afternoon. And then the nightmare began to unfold.

The Vet noticed she was slightly jaundiced and the sample I showed him led him to take some blood tests as he was concerned that her Liver was the cause. At this point for the first time I found out that apparently Liver problems are a Spaniel issue. She had a full examination which also suggested the bloating was being caused by fluid building up which again suggested the Liver wasn’t doing it job properly. I was told to feed her some protein overnight and she was booked in for a scan first thing on Thursday morning.

Coco was always happy at night lying on a comfy chair or the couch, but on Wednesday night she was restless, constantly trying to get on the bed next to me, but failing to get comfortable, until eventually I sat on the couch with her and she seemed to settle down beside me. Coco had a look that would melt the strongest of people, those big brown eyes were hard to ignore, and she spent a lot of time that night sitting looking at me…she knew something was wrong, she couldn’t tell me what but in her eyes it was obvious.

Thursday morning meant an early morning walk to the Vets where I left her to have her tests. The key seemed to be the scan, if it showed lumps or tumors then the prognosis was pretty dire, but if they were absent then I took it that it might be possible to use medicine and a change in diet to give the Liver some breathing space to try and repair itself a bit which it apparently can given the right conditions.

After a worrying wait of a few hours the call came to say nothing had been spotted on the scan and that the Vets wanted to proceed with the medicine and diet option to see if they could get the Liver to work again. The tarry diarrhea had been blood, and because it was being caused by the Liver not doing what it was meant to the options of any invasive surgery was not available to us because Coco would probably have started bleeding and they wouldn’t have been able to stop it.

So armed with a bag of medicines we came home, with a bit of hope that all was not lost and with an appointment made for Monday afternoon at which progress could be monitored and hopefully some signs of improvement.

Coco slept most of the rest of the day, she was able to go outside to relieve herself and there were no immediate signs of problems. But as night came she was restless again, very much unable to settle in one place for a long time. She started to circle which I have since found out was being caused by the problems from her liver affecting her brain…she finally laid down and we tried to sleep.

I was woken just after 3am with Coco being sick, bile and food mostly and a plastic bottle top that had somehow found its way into her stomach though I have no idea how or when. Subsequent checks confirmed it had not had any effect on her. As i was cleaning up the carpet Coco crawled onto the bed and collapsed, her breathing was quite rapid now but similar to earlier and the Vet had said that may happen and just to keep an eye on it. From then until 5am she lay still, her tail occasionally wagging just like the Coco we always knew. My Mum had come and sat with her too and between us we tried to keep her comfortable and eventually around 5am she seemed to settle down and we turned off the lights to give her some peace, I sat on the chair next to her and just kept an eye until at some point I must have fallen asleep.

I woke about 7am, Coco was lying across the bed, her hind end lying in a considerable amount of blood. Somewhere in those 2 hours my wee girls Liver had failed and her body had began to shut itself down to protect other organs. The only comfort the Vet could give me was to tell me that she wouldn’t have suffered. Her Body was in shock and she was completely unresponsive although her heart seemed to be beating quite strongly but all that was doing was making the blood loss worse. When her Liver had failed she would quickly have fallen into a coma, hopefully unaware of what was happening to her, its the only comfort I take from the scene I witnessed.

I called the emergency number for the Vet, I knew already that it was too late and that Coco wasn’t going to survive, by the time the on call Vet could have got to the house we were as quick getting her to the surgery ourselves so calls were made and we made her as comfortable as we could and wrapped her in blankets and towels to move her.

Between the time in the house and the 20 minutes we waited at the surgery for the Vet to arrive I kept talking to her and stroking her head, I have no idea if she could hear me, I whispered the same things I said to her often during her four years with us so I know she was aware of how much she meant to me and those who cared about her. She was a massive part of our family, not just a dog, but family.

Finally the Vet arrived at the surgery and within a few minutes at 8.30am Coco was finally at peace…I got to spend some time alone with her to say goodbye, which I did not just for myself but all those who didn’t get the chance to be there with her at the end…and with that her suffering was over and she entered her final sleep.

I cannot thank Jennifer the Vet enough for all she did on Thursday and Friday, and Gavin who saw Coco on Wednesday afternoon…they are the most professional people I know, nothing is routine and I know how upset they must feel when things don’t work out…they made Coco’s last few days and hours as good as they possibly could, they did everything that Coco’s body allowed them to do…I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

I was asked if they could remove Coco’s Liver to look at it and I said they could, the result of which showed that the organ was completely diseased, without an invasive procedure there was no way of knowing just how bad the damage was and that just wasn’t an option on Thursday when the scan was done…Coco wouldn’t have survived no matter what had happened on Thursday, by the time the symptoms of Liver disease had presented, with the damage done, it was already too late to change the outcome.

What caused it…we will never know…it could have been a genetic time-bomb waiting to go off, could have been an infection that started the process, there is no way of knowing. The diseased state of her Liver suggested it had been ongoing for about 6 months but she showed no signs of anything until Monday that would have led to a quicker diagnosis.

This is a thing that happens to Spaniels…If you read this and own one…remember to ask the Vet next time you see them about it, if you are seeing anything like yellowing of the eyes or gums for example seek immediate Vet help…caught before the organ loses 80% of its function and you might just save your dogs life…Coco was unlucky that nothing showed in her day to day life…she just kept walking, and running, and wagging her tail…and being the gorgeous lovable wee girl she always was.

I will miss her like hell, even now 48 hours later I have a feeling in my gut that is just numb and empty.

She deserved so much more than a life as short as it was, she gave me and everyone who cared about her so much love, cuddles and fun that a massive hole has been ripped in our lives…she cannot be replaced…and for me, going thorough this twice in 4 years is enough…I cannot risk a third time…maybe one day I will change my mind, but I doubt it…I have invested so much love in two dogs in the 10 years since Bonnie arrived…I am absolutely heartbroken today…this is going to be a long time process to get over.

Coco you were an amazing wee thing…everyday you made me laugh…everyday you brought something to my life and I hope you knew just how absolutely you were loved and adored by everyone who had the pleasure to meet you.

Time decreases the pain…but you will never be forgotten…

Rest in Peace Cocopop…Love You xxx

August 24, 2015 by Lisa  
Filed under Blog

Liver Shunt – Bailey’s Story


First of all, thank you so much for sharing your time and efforts! We were blind-sided when our almost nine-year old Cairn Terrier, Bailey, was diagnosed with liver disease. Your website was one of the first I read looking for hope and guidance. But her outcome seems to be unique, so I would like to share it with anyone that may be facing the same challenges.

Last year we were in the process of trying to find a new home and we were under a great deal of stress, so when Bailey, our 8-year-old Cairn Terrier, started moping around I thought she was just keying onto our stress. When the groomer said Bailey had lost weight, we took her to the vet who tested her for Thyroid which turned out to be okay. We increased her food and that seemed to help with her weight. We moved in December, and it looked like Bailey was missing her friends and having trouble transitioning to living on a concrete slab and her joints seemed painful. Then, in January of this year, Bailey threw up on me, so I took her to our new vet. They took X-rays and did blood work, but we had to go to another vet for the ultrasound, so we took her back to our previous vet – a one-hour car ride away.

Both vets assured us that since Bailey was almost nine, there was no way she had a shunt, as that is a birth defect and would have been detected early in her life. The vet prescribed Denamarin. Then, through my online research, I found that there is special food for liver disease. At that time it seemed any day could be her last.

In desperation, I sent her X-rays to our other dogs’ allergist, Dr. Patricia White, who noticed fluid in Bailey’s abdomen. She also asked if we were working with an Internal Medicine specialist. From there we took Bailey to Blue Pearl Georgia Veterinary Specialists in Sandy Springs, Georgia (a suburb of Atlanta). Dr. Lisa Langs performed the examination and consulted with us at some length. The next step was exploratory surgery to gather liver samples and “look around.” This was a very difficult decision – this is a very expensive procedure and, according to the vets, it may not give us any helpful information. But, we had spent thousands on our other dogs for their allergies, so I could not say no to my Bailey. On my 50th birthday, we drove our girl to the vet and dropped her off before the sun came up so she could have the surgery. Two days later we picked her up and the surgeon, Dr. Julie Duval, told us that Bailey had a shunt! Her blood work and bile acid test did not indicate a shunt, so the surgeon was surprised, but she said that Bailey will probably live her normal life span! We stopped the Denamarin, started her on Lactulose and we continued the special food. It is one month later and Bailey’s body condition is back to normal and she has so much more energy! She had her ninth birthday this past Thursday!

My husband and I have been gobsmacked that she has lived so long with a liver shunt and have been trying to understand how she could have lived so long without a diagnosis until now. The only explanation we can come up with is that we have taken great care to feed her and her brother the best food possible, as Bruce has extreme allergies. We learned with allergies, and it holds for liver disease, that the right food makes all the difference. She has done well with both Hill’s l/d and Royal Canin Hepatic formulas.

So thank you again for your help! We were blessed with great vets from the beginning to the conclusion of this process. To anyone visiting your website, I would like to tell them to not give up hope, and if they can afford it seek other opinions and don’t give up!


April 21, 2014 by Lisa  
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Sydney – Australian Shepherd

Dear Lisa,

I am so glad to find and read about your foundation. I am so glad that you are trying to make humans aware of canine liver disease. I myself was totally unaware of the devastating effects of liver disease on dogs.

We lost our very special sweet Australian Sheepdog Sydney to liver disease April 14, 2013. I would like to tell you her story, because she was such a wonderful dog and companion.

We bought Sydney in the back of a truck full of puppies in the thumb of Michigan. We loved her from the beginning, she was the Velcro dog from the start. She was a beautiful tri colored Aussie, very athletic , a wonderful walking companion, an an AWSOME frisbee player. Most of all she was a very quirky, funny loving Aussie, and very much a part of our family.

Sydney’s eighth birthday would have been May 2. Like your dog and so many others, we were completely caught off guard with this horrible disease. Sydney just started vomiting her food up. It started here and there and then more often and then she just stopped eating. We thought she just had a virus, and then she became lethargic and did not eat a thing. We took her to the vet, they said she looked jaundice. They said her liver was involved. She then ended up in the specialty vet hospital for four days , with a blood transfusion, because she was anemic, and they told us she was bleeding internally from somewhere. We thought she was getting better, they sent her home, only to end up back there for another two nights. She was very lethargic, not eating. They then did a liver biopsy.

This is where it gets really awful. It is a process of illumination, because it can be caused by so many things. Could it be cancer, no, bacterial (leptospirosis), no how about copper, no, how about something she ate, who knows, how about stagnant water, who knows, how about genetics, (she was a middle aged female, with a little bit smaller liver), how about some drug she had been taking all her life, perhaps heartworm, or some antibiotic she had in the past. The list goes on. Along with that goes heartbreak and guilt, what could I have done different?

We tried to get Sydney to eat everything and anything that she was allowed. She seemed very depressed and did not want to eat rice, chicken, mashed potatoes, bland food. She simply tried to bury her bowl. It was heartbreaking to watch. She had simply become another dog who looked and seemed in a lot of discomfort.

This whole process was not that long. A couple weeks of not eating and vomiting, then that specialty vet clinic, lots and lots of pills. Then the steroids, they made her stomach bleed.
I am writing this so that your readers and hopefully dog parents out there become aware of liver disease. I had never ever heard of a dog having this or was I aware that this could happen to my pet. It is horrible, I wish that they had something posted at my vet office to watch for warning signs. Sydney was our second dog, we has a Shetland Sheepdog that lived to be 13 before her. Never had I heard one time about liver disease, and my pets go regularly to the vet.

People need to be made aware, because when it shows symptoms, it comes on hard and fast.
She was fine one day and then boom not feeling well.

I hope this story helps in your foundation, we plan to donate. Sydney would have been 8 May 2. She should of had another 5-6 years ahead of her. She was a one of a kind and we will never . forget her. She was not the same dog in a matter of weeks, 10 lbs thinner. We lost our family member and our friend. This all happened within about a 6 week period.

I hope this helps in your fight against liver disease. Like I said I hope we can do something positive in Sydney’s memory.

Thank you so much!

The Davidson Family
In loving memory of Sydney Davidson (akc Sydney’s Glamour Girl) May 8, 2005-April 14, 2012) She was a wonderful dog!!!! A great friend, who gave unconditional love! And we miss her terribly!!

May 23, 2013 by Lisa  
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Liver Cancer Study from Morris Animal Foundation

em>I received a phone call recently regarding this study taking place through Morris Animal Foundation. They asked that I post this information to my blog to let people know about the study and where to donate if anyone is interested. It is a great foundation and organization and hopefully they can help us put an end to canine liver cancer!


Using Human Diagnostic Tools to Identify Liver Cancers

Dr. Elizabeth A. Ballegeer, Michigan State University, First Award Grant
Total Study Cost: $115,687
Thoroughly evaluating masses in the canine liver presents a diagnostic challenge. It requires invasive diagnostic techniques, such as biopsy and fine-needle aspiration, that are sometimes effective but usually don’t completely show microscopic changes in liver masses. Imaging is particularly relevant in the diagnostic evaluation of the canine liver. This study will examine a radioactive drug used to diagnose human cancer combined with both positron emission tomography and computed tomography to determine whether this noninvasive technique can help diagnose liver disease and expedite therapeutic intervention in dogs. Results from this study will contribute to the little information known about the use of this particular form of imaging in diagnosing and prescribing treatment for canine liver cancers.


March 10, 2012 by Lisa  
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In Memory of Riley

A Poem By Her Mommy

Although I cannot see you
I feel you here with me
And still I cannot touch you
… Right here is where you’ll be.
In a way you were my teacher
To help me on my way
In a way you were my protector
To keep the bad at bay.
I miss you my friend
Your breath upon my cheek
Your tail just going crazy
Your fur so fine and sleek.
You were never just my dog
You were always so much more
From lots of hugs and kisses
To puddles on the floor.
I miss you soo very much
Much more than you’ll ever know
But I understand your pain
And why you had to go.
So until next time my faithful companion
This will never be the end
I love you still more ever
My best and loyal friend.

With her head high and proud as always!!

March 10, 2012 by Lisa  
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Copper Storage Disease in Scottish Terriers

Dear Lisa,
Having just read an article on your site about the disproportionate number of Scotties being diagnosed with Copper Storage Disease I felt I had to contact you.

2 weeks ago I lost my little man, Jack. He was 9 and died from Liver Cirrhosis brought about from Copper Storage Disease. I wondered if there were any links within his pedigree to the cases you site and I hoped that the information may be useful to hopefully save another owner from the heartache and grief we are currently going through.

Jack: Atlanticbell Firecracker
Sire: Solomons Diamond – Champion WIldermist Clint/Millendaw Mixed Up
Dam: Quinsan Kittys Gem – Fred of Capeldewi/Esther Flip Flop

Jack was purchased from a breeder in Buxton, Staffordshire, England in November 2002. I believe his fathers side has travelled to the USA and bred there as I can find reference to that bloodline on the internet. I cannot find any reference to his mothers side at all.

Obviously its a long shot, but if any of the Scotties you have come across do have the same bloodline it may help some way in diagnosing this horrible disease before its too late.
Many thanks
Jane Barker

March 10, 2012 by Lisa  
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In Memory of Cooper

Hi, My name is Vanessa I’m from Guadalajara, Mexico.

I found out about Canine Liver Disease Foundation 1 year ago. My brother, my sister and I donate every chance we have. It is very important to have an early detection of the disease. Saddly I didn’t know much about it, even though my dog just lost his appetite 3 days before he passed away. That was the only symptom, before he got jauntice but by the time he was already at the vets hospital :( .

Lisa I’d like to thank this foundation. I hope you can post my story:

I sent an e-mail to Canine Liver Disease Foundation on January 2nd 2011, the saddest day of my life. We’ve loss our little Cooper, my 2 years old pomeranian, and I must thank you, because of your foundation, and your words that made me feel better. It was really helpful to read and to know more about this disease, about other stories and to know that I was not alone in this. 1 year ago was the worst day in our lives, I didn’t understand why my Cooper had to go, but now I understand it and I know he wanted to take care of me and my family from heaven. Now he is our guardian angel. I couldn’t see pics of him until now, instead of just crying, now I laugh and smile, and I know this is what he wanted, to remember him with a smile in our faces :’).

My little beautiful Cooper, we miss you, and we thank you for the happiest time in our lives. You will always be in our hearts, every time I look up in the sky I see a star, and I know it is you. Just be happy where you are. Love you.

This video is in memory of my Cooper :)

January 3, 2012 by Lisa  
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Update on Tigger

Dear Lisa,

You did a story on Tigger Jan 15, 2009 . First time he had mass on liver was 2007 it was hepatocelluar carcinoma it was removed with clean margins. Sadly 8 months later it came back in another location in the liver. This time it was in a location that no vet not even the chief of surgery at a well known hospital would even dare to operate. They gave him a few months to live. Since Tigger other wise was healthy I knew I had to search for help. I found Dr. Chick Weisse from interventional radiology who stated Tigger could have a non invasive procedure called chemoembolizations to shrink tumor. Its were a small incision is made a wire then goes to tumor with chemo drugs . He stated it could work. That’s all I wanted to hear was HOPE . I had procedure done and he was to get checked in four months to see if it worked. Our 4 month visit showed that the tumor did not shrink and the vet suggested we perform another chemoembolization. I agreed and I asked if I could bring Tigger to holistic vet for supplements and to boost his immune system no problem . We then had appt for second remobilization and two months later it made tumor 50 percent smaller. Surgery was next to remove this but he had a 50% chance . I thought if I don’t fight for his life he will die soon. Off to surgery tumor removed and spleen but we did not get clean margins. So we were off to chemo in 6 weeks. Its now 2 and a half years since that surgery and chemo and Tigger is still with me. A dog who had months to live and a vet with his cutting edge technology . Tigger never lost a pound of weight and his energy was like a puppy I believe he has a strong desire to live. Through all this I had pet insurance which maxed out with just two procedures. Tigger is needing sponsors. Always get a second opinion and I never gave up HOPE and one renowned vet who changed our world. Tigger is truly a medical miracle.
Not Today…Not without a Fight! Cancer is a word until it hits home………

October 2, 2011 by Lisa  
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Quality of Life Scale

When your dog is nearing the end of his/her life, the emotional weight that falls upon you can be tremendous. The
endearing habits, the joy, the unquestioning devotion your animal gave you fill your heart as you confront the expected loss.

Many of us view our dog as a beloved member of the family to whom we have made a commitment to care for.
Unfortunately, there may come a time when this honorable commitment takes a different path. The medical options may be exhausted or the continued care might be unmanageable or too expensive and the best you can do for your dog is to let go.

The hardest decision you may have to make is determining when the quality of your dog’s life is compromised to the point where it’s not worth going on. It’s especially difficult to determine when is the right time with dogs because we just don’t always know when they are suffering and ready to leave this life. My veterinarian always told me that I would know when the time was right, but I’m not sure that’s necessarily true in all cases.

You may second guess your decision – did I wait too long? Was my dog suffering and I didn’t know it? Could he have had
a few more weeks? As long as you do not allow your dog to suffer, you made the right the decision.

The Quality of Life Scale contained in the section below is presented to help guide your decision. I hope it will provide you with peace and comfort at this difficult time.

The decision to pursue additional medical treatments or consider euthanasia for a sick
or chronically ill pet is a hard decision to make for many pet owners. This handout
has been designed to help you consider the quality of life of your pet and to help make
you aware of some of the additional options that exist if it is not the right time for
euthanasia. Answer each of the questions in each section with a yes or no.


Pain control is essential. Many animals do not complain in obvious, visible ways when they hurt. Many animals will hide their discomfort. Consider the following:
____My pet hurts.
____My pet limps. (If it didn’t hurt, they wouldn’t limp.)
____My pet pants frequently, even at rest.
____My pet’s respirations are forced, exaggerated, or otherwise not normal.
____My pet licks repeatedly at one site on his/her body or at a site of a cancer/tumor.
____My pet guards or protects and area of his/her body and may snap if that area is approached or touched.
____My animal’s posture is abnormal or different than normal.
____My pet shakes or trembles sometimes during rest.
____My pet is on pain medication and it doesn’t work.

Possible interventions for yes answers: start pain medication, change pain medications,
combinations of pain medications from different drug classes, surgical intervention,
non-traditional medicine (acupuncture, etc.), treat the underlying disease/condition.


Appetite is one of the most obvious signs of wellness. Most animals are normally vigorous eaters. Consider the following:
____My pet doesn’t eat his/her normal food anymore.
____My pet picks at his/her food now but never used to do this.
____My pet walks over to his/her food and looks at it but won?t eat or walks away from the food.
____My pet doesn’t even want good stuff (treats, human foods, snacks) anymore.
____My pet acts nauseated or vomits.
____My pet is losing weight.

Possible interventions for yes answers: hand feeding, heating food, adding moisture by
soaking food or using canned varieties, careful addition of human foods, syringe
feeding, stomach tube placement, medications for appetite stimulation, medications for


Hydration status is equally important as appetite. Without adequate water consumption,
your pet can become dehydrated. Dehydration can contribute to weakness and not
feeling well. Consider the following:
____My pet doesn’t drink as much as he/she used to.
____My pet frequently has dry, sticky gums.
____My pet is vomiting or has diarrhea (fluid loss can also contribute to dehydration).

Possible interventions for yes answers: add moisture to the diet, subcutaneous fluid
administration, medications to control vomiting or diarrhea.


Animals that don’t feel well, especially cats, do not have the energy to maintain normal hair and skin. Consider the following:
____My cat doesn’t groom herself any more.
____My pets hair is matted, greasy, rough looking, dull, or foul smelling.
____My pet has stool pasted around his/her rectum or in his/her hair.
____My pet smells like urine or has skin irritation from urine.
____My pet has pressure sores/wounds that won?t heal.

Possible interventions for yes answers: regular brushing and grooming, frequent
bedding changes, adequate padding for areas where the pet spends a lot of time,
appropriate wound care, treat the underlying disease/condition.


Changes in normal activity can be due to mobility problems, pain, illness, or aging (arthritis). Consider the following:
____My pet cannot get up without assistance.
____My pet had a hard time getting around and/or limps.
____My pet lays in one place all day long.
____My pet does not want to play ball, go for walks, or do the things he/she used to do.
____My pet falls frequently.

Possible interventions for yes answers: pain medication addition or adjustment, physical therapy.


Another important area of consideration is the pet’s mental status and happiness. Consider the following:
____My pet does not express joy and interest in life.
____My pet does not respond to the people that he/she used to respond to.
____My pet does not want to play with toys or do other things that he/she used to enjoy.
____My pet seems dull, not alert, or depressed.


Changes in normal behavioral patterns are often a key indicator of how well and animal feels. Consider the following:
____My pet is hiding or sleeping in odd places.
____My pet doesn’t greet me when I come home and he/she used to.
____My pet is overly clingy and is following me around and he/she never used to do this.
____My other pets are treating this pet differently, they are overly attentive or ignoring him/her completely.
____My pet doesn’t care about what is going on around him/her.


Many times an owner is aware that their pet is suffering but does not want to give up on their pet. Consider the following:
____I wouldn’t want to live if I were in a similar situation.
____I would be painful if I were in a similar situation.
____I have made appointments for euthanasia for this pet cancelled or didn’t show up.
____I am holding onto this pet for some sentimental reason. (ex. the pet belonged to a now deceased family member, the pet helped me through a hard time in my life, etc.)
____ My pet is having more bad days than good days.

Count the number of yes and no answers that you have marked.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple point system or scale that will tell you exactly what do
for your pet. However, the more yes answers you have, the more likely it is that your pet
has a poor quality of life. This list has been significantly expanded and altered from an
article on quality of life. The original scale uses 50% as a cutoff. If this information is
extrapolated, it would imply that more than 21 yes answers means your pet has a
diminished quality of life. If this is the case, you have two options:
1. Make major changes to try to improve your pet’s quality of life (like some of the
things listed above) or 2. Euthanize your pet to relieve his/her suffering.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not
intended to take the place of your regular veterinarian. Please do not hesitate
to contact your regular veterinarian if you have questions regarding your pet.

Very loosely adapted from Quality of Life Scale, Veterinary Practice News, June 2006, pg. 24.

Karen Blakeley, DVM, MPH
1 December 2006

July 26, 2011 by Lisa  
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