When to say Goodbye

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It’s hard to know exactly when it’s time to let your beloved pet go. Alice Villalobos, a veterinary oncologist in the United Kingdom, developed the Quality of Life (QoL) Scale in 2004 to help vets and families determine when it’s time to say goodbye.

The HHHHHMM Quality of Life Scale

This scale will help you to assess your dog’s quality of life as often as you need to. It can help you to objectively deal with a very emotional situation. The scale rates Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Hygiene, Happiness, Mobility and More Good Days than Bad on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best.


Adequate pain control and your dog’s ability to breathe are the most important elements on the scale.


Keep an eye on your dog’s weight and make sure he or she is eating enough.


Make sure your dog has plenty of water. You can check for dehydration by lifting your dog’s skin between the shoulder blades and seeing how quickly it returns to place. Dehydrated dogs tend to have tacky-feeling gums, sunken eyes and a dry nose.


If your dog can’t move away from his/her own waste, he or she may develop painful sores. Give your dog a soft brushing and clean him/her gently, especially after bowel movements.


Does your dog still respond to his/her favourite toys and family members? Does he or she still like to be petted or prefer to hide away? These are things you can look for to find out if your dog is happy or depressed, lonely, anxious, bored or afraid.


Can your dog get up without assistance? Is your dog able to get up and move around enough to satisfy normal desires? Does he or she feel like going for a walk? Is your dog having seizures or stumbling?

More good days than bad

Bad days include vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, frustration, falling down, or seizures. When bad days outnumber good days, or if your dog seems to be ‘turned off’ to life, it may be time to consider speaking to your vet.