Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Helping pet owners make tough choices

Date:
June 14, 2013
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Perhaps the hardest part of owning a pet is making difficult decisions when a beloved companion becomes seriously ill. That's why researchers are developing a new tool to help people assess their ailing pets' quality of life, a key factor in decisions about when to order life-prolonging procedures and when an animal's suffering means it's time to let go.

Maria Iliopoulou, an MSU-trained veterinarian and a doctoral student in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, with her dog Rocky.
Credit: Photo by G.L. Kohuth

Perhaps the hardest part of owning a pet is making difficult decisions when a beloved companion becomes seriously ill.

Related Articles


That's why Michigan State University researchers are developing a new tool to help people assess their ailing pets' quality of life, a key factor in decisions about when to order life-prolonging procedures and when an animal's suffering means it's time to let go.

In a new paper in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, MSU researchers describe a survey they created to help pet owners monitor the quality of life of dogs undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

Veterinarians can use their training, experience and scientific knowledge to objectively assess an animal's quality of life in response to treatment, said lead author Maria Iliopoulou, an MSU-trained veterinarian and a doctoral student in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies. But outside the vet's office, pet owners rely on their own subjective impressions of the animal's well-being.

"Dogs obviously can't tell you how they're feeling, and sometimes pet owners may not know what changes in canine behavior they should pay attention to," Iliopoulou said. "By having this tool, we can help owners see what's really going on with the animal to improve decision making and facilitate the human-animal bond under the challenging circumstances of cancer diagnosis and treatment."

For the study, dog owners completed a questionnaire at the time of diagnosis about how the animal was behaving then and how they typically behaved six months prior. Follow-up questionnaires filled out three and six weeks later documented changes in behavior as the dogs underwent chemo. Meanwhile, the veterinarians filled out shorter surveys based on their observations.

"We wanted to see if the owner and the clinician would agree," Iliopoulou said. "The owner knows the pet, and the clinician knows the science. That's what the survey is all about, to identify components of a good quality of life and verbalize them in an understandable way to facilitate client and clinician communication regarding patient-care decisions."

As it turned out, responses to the questions by owners and veterinarians were fairly well-matched. That finding told the researchers the questionnaire was a helpful way to find common ground for treatment decisions.

The survey responses matched each other -- and matched scientific data from the dogs' medical records -- particularly closely on three questions involving changes in the dogs' play behavior, clinical signs of disease and canine happiness as perceived by the owner. Iliopoulou said the agreement on those questions makes them effective indicators of quality of life that can be used in animal cancer clinics, and in future studies.

With 29 participants, all at the MSU Animal Cancer Care Clinic, it's hard to draw broad conclusions from the relatively small pilot study. Still, Iliopoulou said the results were significant enough that she's planning a follow-up study with hundreds of dogs and owners. She also hopes the survey can eventually be adapted for animals with other illnesses.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Maria A. Iliopoulou, Barbara E. Kitchell, Vilma Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan. Development of a survey instrument to assess health-related quality of life in small animal cancer patients treated with chemotherapy. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2013; 242 (12): 1679 DOI: 10.2460/javma.242.12.1679

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Helping pet owners make tough choices." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130614082846.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2013, June 14). Helping pet owners make tough choices. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130614082846.htm
Michigan State University. "Helping pet owners make tough choices." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130614082846.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins