Quality of life has become accepted as an important predictor of survival among human patients with heart failure. Now veterinarians at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University have developed two surveys that may prove to be similarly useful in evaluating the quality of life for dogs and cats with heart disease.
Known as “FETCH” (Functional Evaluation of Cardiac Health) and “CATCH” (Cats’ Assessment Tool for Cardiac Health), the surveys ask owners to rank aspects of their dog’s or cat’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 or even euthanasia.
Researchers found that the FETCH and CATCH scores correlated well to the International Small Animal Cardiac Health Council (ISACHC) classification for disease severity.
Results of the CATCH evaluation were published in the May 15 edition of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, building on the earlier publication of the FETCH study.
“Studies have indicated that pet owners value quality of life much more than longevity in their animals,” said Professor of Clinical Sciences Lisa M. Freeman, board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition . “We want our dogs and cats to have happy lives, and we believe this tool is helpful in evaluating whether our pets still do.”