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What is Quality of Life?
Quality of life is a frequent term used to assess how an animal is doing in the midst of disease.
You know your pet the best, and are the expert regarding the quality of its life. Your evaluation will probably occur multiple times throughout your animal's illness. If there are other people who also love this animal, it may be helpful, especially with children, to involve them in some discussions regarding quality as you are faced with decisions.
Here are some ideas of how to objectively gauge quality:
  • First, take a moment and decide how you define quality in terms of living with quality.
  • Truthfully, answer some key questions such as:
    • Is your pet eating and drinking normally?
    • Can it relieve itself on its own?
    • Can your pet move around on its own?
    • Is your pet interested in the activities around it?
    • Is your pet withdrawn much of the time?
​It can be helpful to understand the differences between pain and suffering as you are making assessments of quality in your pet's life.


Pain is a physical and emotional sensation that can be complicated to assess. Keep in mind, a pet's reaction to pain is dependent upon its personality and the degree of pain it's experiencing. Ask your veterinarian what signs your pet may display to indicate pain.


Suffering is more than physical attributes, and involves the ability to enjoy living life. Use the above tools to help decide if important qualities are diminishing or are no longer present in your pet's life. These may help you to define what suffering would be for your pet and create a plan to prevent or limit any suffering.
Girl kissing yellow lab


Contact Us:
Colorado State University
Veterinary Teaching Hospital
300 West Drake Road
Fort Collins, Colorado, 80523

(970) 297-1242

(970) 297-1205

If you are at the CSU VTH:
Ask for your medical team to introduce us or have a receptionist page us.
If you are outside of the CSU VTH:
Call our clinic line at: (970) 297-1242