How do you measure quality of life?

Ethical and welfare issues relating to vet treatments

source: Veterinary Record vol 153 no 2, July 12 2003
starts p37, 2 pages long

The BVA Animal Welfare Foundation has discussed how quality of life can be defined and measured in animals. There is agreement on basic requirements, such as food, security, and even companionship, but humans may have concerns that are not shared by other animals. Recreation may not be an important need, for example. A subjective element is likely when people talk of the quality of life.

University of Birmingham's David Morton noted ethical aspects of this issue, for example in whether surgery is appropriate, and whether animals in shelfters should be used to help vets practice skills to become better surgeons. He argues that the values of different societies mean that views of the quality of life can vary from one society to another, and that it is important to assess the costs and benefits for the animals involved, when considering treatment.

The impact of treatments on owners was also considered, as was the role of euthanasia. Some vets see euthanasia as signalling failure, while others see it as valuable in alleviating suffering.