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Perceptions and priorities of owners of dogs with heart disease regarding quality versus quantity of life for their pets

Mark A. Oyama DVM, DACVIM1, John E. Rush DVM, DACVECC, DACVIM2, M. Lynne O'Sullivan DVM, DACVIM3, Regan M. Williams DVM, DACVIM4, Elizabeth A. Rozanski DVM, DACVECC, DACVIM5, Jean-Paul Petrie DVM, DACVIM6, Meg M. Sleeper VMD, DACVIM7, and Dorothy Cimino Brown DVM, DACVS8
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  • 1 Department of Clinical Studies-Philadelphia, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.
  • | 4 Veterinary Emergency Clinic, 280 Sheppard Ave E, Toronto, ON M2N 3B1, Canada.
  • | 5 Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.
  • | 6 The Animal Medical Center, 510 E 62nd St, New York, NY 20021.
  • | 7 Department of Clinical Studies-Philadelphia, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
  • | 8 Department of Clinical Studies-Philadelphia, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Abstract

Objective—To describe the relative importance of pets' quality versus quantity of life among owners of dogs with heart disease.

Design—Prospective questionnaire-based clinical study.

Sample Population—Owners of 201 dogs with heart disease.

Procedures—Owners each completed a questionnaire that was designed to ascertain the relative importance of quality versus quantity of life for their pet and to assess the owners' willingness to trade survival time for quality of life, if that were possible. Analyses were performed to evaluate factors associated with owner willingness to trade time for quality of life.

Results—Most owners (170/197 [86%]) were willing to trade survival time for quality of life for their heart disease–affected dogs; of those owners, 88 (52%) were willing to trade 6 months. Owners were highly concerned with detection of perceived pet suffering and their pet's ability to interact with them. Owners whose pets had respiratory difficulty or fainting episodes and were treated on an outpatient basis had a greater willingness to trade survival time than owners of dogs that were treated on an emergency basis. Among owners willing to trade time for quality of life, younger owners and those whose pets had fainting episodes were willing to trade the most amount of time.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that quality of life is highly important to owners of dogs with heart disease. Owners' priorities partly depend on owner age and the pet's clinical circumstances; ongoing client-veterinarian communication is important to optimize treatment success as perceived by owners.

Abstract

Objective—To describe the relative importance of pets' quality versus quantity of life among owners of dogs with heart disease.

Design—Prospective questionnaire-based clinical study.

Sample Population—Owners of 201 dogs with heart disease.

Procedures—Owners each completed a questionnaire that was designed to ascertain the relative importance of quality versus quantity of life for their pet and to assess the owners' willingness to trade survival time for quality of life, if that were possible. Analyses were performed to evaluate factors associated with owner willingness to trade time for quality of life.

Results—Most owners (170/197 [86%]) were willing to trade survival time for quality of life for their heart disease–affected dogs; of those owners, 88 (52%) were willing to trade 6 months. Owners were highly concerned with detection of perceived pet suffering and their pet's ability to interact with them. Owners whose pets had respiratory difficulty or fainting episodes and were treated on an outpatient basis had a greater willingness to trade survival time than owners of dogs that were treated on an emergency basis. Among owners willing to trade time for quality of life, younger owners and those whose pets had fainting episodes were willing to trade the most amount of time.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that quality of life is highly important to owners of dogs with heart disease. Owners' priorities partly depend on owner age and the pet's clinical circumstances; ongoing client-veterinarian communication is important to optimize treatment success as perceived by owners.

Contributor Notes

The authors thank Drs. Steve Cole, Nick Russell, Jason Arndt, Ellen Davison, Ken Drobatz, Liz Cole, Betsy Bond, Suzanne Cunningham, Carolyn Michel, Fe Wright, Cindy Walker, Debbie Kingston, and Barbara Brewer for technical assistance.

Address correspondence to Dr. Oyama.