QOL assessment offers multi-faceted look at canine health

Mars Petcare’s new assessment is based on a 32-item questionnaire for pet owners to report on their dog’s behaviours

A data-led approach to measuring and quantifying canine well-being may offer veterinarians a more consistent capture of a dog’s health. Photo ©BigStockPhoto.comA new data-led approach to measuring and quantifying canine well-being may offer veterinarians a more consistent capture of a dog’s health.

Researchers from Mars Petcare, including Waltham Petcare Science Institute and Banfield Pet Hospital, have developed a quality of life (QOL) assessment to evaluate canine health.

The assessment is based on a 32-item questionnaire for pet owners to report on their dog’s behaviours and activity. When processed, the survey results provide a multi-faceted view of a dog’s health and well-being, Mars reports, covering details such as energy levels, happiness, mobility, sociability, and appetite.

“Well-being is a focal point for dog owners and veterinary professionals alike,” says Mars Petcare’s president of science and diagnostics, Nefertiti Greene. “This assessment will allow us to consistently capture dog health and well-being data which has been proven to provide scientifically validated insights into pets’ health.”

To help ensure its suitability for use in the general population of canines, the assessment used data from 2813 dogs, Mars reports. A newly published paper in Scientific Reports explores the assessment’s validity by contrasting owner survey results to Banfield medical records of the dogs studied.

It confirms:

  • energy and mobility scores were reduced in dogs with osteoarthritis;
  • sociability and happiness domain scores were reduced with the presence of chronic diseases; and
  • appetite scores were reduced in dogs with chronic dental disease.

Results from the study also suggest the assessment can identify general malaise otherwise undetected when a dog is suffering from underlying pain that may not be easily identifiable.

“From a veterinarian’s perspective, the QOL assessment will deliver valuable information on how veterinary care can help improve pet outcomes,” says Mars Veterinary Health’s chief medical officer, Jennifer Welser, DVM, DACVO. “Based on these insights, we have the potential to understand which treatments and interventions positively impact pet health and well-being and improve communication with pet owners about the health of their pet.”

Pending further validation, the assessment could be used as the basis for digital tools to help veterinary teams better track dog well-being throughout all stages of an animal’s life, Mars says.

To access the Scientific Reports-published review of the assessment, click here.

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