New tools for evaluating quality of life for dogs and cats with heart disease

Veterinarians at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University have developed two surveys that could help evaluate the quality of life for dogs and cats with heart disease.

Two surveys known as ‘FETCH’ (Functional Evaluation of Cardiac Health) and ‘CATCH’ (Cats’ Assessment Tool for Cardiac Health) have been created by the Massachusetts-based University school to ask owners to rank aspects of their pet’s health on a scale of 0 to 5. Veterinarians are then able to assess the animal’s perceived quality of life, which may inform decisions about treatment, nutrition and, in some cases, euthanasia.

Researchers found that the FETCH and CATCH evaluation correlated well to the International Small Animal Cardiac Health Council (ISACHC) classification for disease severity.

Professor of Clinical Sciences Lisa M. Freeman said: “Studies have indicated that pet owners value quality of life much more than longevity in their animals.

“We want our dogs and cats to have happy lives, and we believe this tool is a helpful in evaluating whether our pets still do.”

Freeman developed the survey tools with fellow Professor of Clinical Sciences John E Rush. Both set out to create and evaluate a tool for pets similar to the Minnesota ‘Living with Heart Failure’ questionnaire – one of the most widely used evaluation tools in human cardiology.

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