Mars Petcare researchers have developed a new Quality of Life (QoL) assessment to evaluate the wellbeing of dogs.

The researchers, including Waltham Petcare Science Institute and Banfield Pet Hospital, developed the assessment, which is based on a 32-item questionnaire for pet owners to report on their dog’s behaviours and activity.

When processed, survey results provide a multi-faceted view of a dog’s health and wellbeing, covering domains such as energy levels, happiness, mobility, sociability, and appetite. A new study published in Scientific Reports supports the validity of this QoL assessment for measuring and quantifying canine health and wellbeing.

Data from 2813 dogs were used to develop the QoL assessment, which makes it the biggest study of its kind to date and ensures that the assessment is suitable for use in the general population of dogs.

Nefertiti Greene, President, Science and Diagnostics, Mars Petcare, says that wellbeing is a focal point for dog owners and veterinary professionals alike.

“This assessment will allow us to consistently capture dog health and wellbeing data which has been proven to provide scientifically validated insights into pets’ health, ultimately advancing our Purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS.”

In the paper, the assessment’s validity was studied by contrasting the owner survey results to Banfield medical records of the dogs studied. For example, energy and mobility scores were reduced in dogs with osteoarthritis; sociability and happiness domain scores were reduced with the advancing life stage of the dog and the presence of chronic diseases; and appetite scores were reduced in dogs with chronic dental disease.

Results from the study also suggest this assessment can identify general malaise that could otherwise have been undetected when a dog is suffering from underlying pain that may not be easily identifiable.

Jennifer Welser, DVM, DACVO, Chief Medical Officer, Mars Veterinary Health, says that from a veterinarian’s perspective, the QoL assessment will deliver valuable information on how veterinary care can help improve pet outcomes.

“Based on these insights, we have the potential to understand which treatments and interventions positively impact pet health and wellbeing and improve communication with pet owners about the health of their pet.”

Pending further validation, this QoL assessment can be used as the basis for digital tools to help dog owners and veterinary teams better track dog wellbeing throughout all stages of a dog’s life.

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