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Owner-perceived, weighted quality-of-life assessments in dogs with spinal cord injuries

Jonathan M. Levine DVM, DACVIM1, Christine M. Budke DVM, PhD2, Gwendolyn J. Levine DVM3, Sharon C. Kerwin DVM, MS, DACVS4, Bianca F. Hettlich T, DACVS5, and Margaret R. Slater DVM, PhD6
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  • 1 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4474
  • | 2 Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4474
  • | 3 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4474
  • | 4 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4474
  • | 5 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4474
  • | 6 Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4474

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate changes over time in owner-perceived, weighted quality-of-life assessments in dogs with spinal cord injuries and determine whether scores were associated with underlying etiology or with veterinarian-assigned scores for severity of neurologic dysfunction.

Design—Cohort study.

Animals—100 dogs with spinal cord injury.

Procedures—Duration of dysfunction, modified Frankel neurologic injury score, and etiology were recorded. At initial and recheck (4- to 6-week) evaluations, owners were asked to identify 5 areas or activities they believed had the most influence on their dogs' quality of life, assess their dogs' current status in each area, and provide a weighting for the importance of each area; results were used to construct a weighted quality-of-life score. Owners were also asked to provide a quality-of-life score with a visual analog scale (VAS).

Results—At initial and recheck evaluations, weighted quality-of-life scores were higher for ambulatory than for nonambulatory dogs. However, scores did not differ among groups when dogs were grouped on the basis of underlying etiology or duration of injury. Dogs with an increase in Frankel score between the initial and recheck evaluations had a significant increase in weighted quality-of-life score, whereas for dogs that did not have any change in Frankel score, initial and recheck weighted quality-of-life scores were not significantly different.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that owner-assigned, weighted quality-of-life scores for dogs with spinal cord injuries did not vary significantly on the basis of underlying etiology or duration of injury but were higher for ambulatory than for nonambulatory dogs.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate changes over time in owner-perceived, weighted quality-of-life assessments in dogs with spinal cord injuries and determine whether scores were associated with underlying etiology or with veterinarian-assigned scores for severity of neurologic dysfunction.

Design—Cohort study.

Animals—100 dogs with spinal cord injury.

Procedures—Duration of dysfunction, modified Frankel neurologic injury score, and etiology were recorded. At initial and recheck (4- to 6-week) evaluations, owners were asked to identify 5 areas or activities they believed had the most influence on their dogs' quality of life, assess their dogs' current status in each area, and provide a weighting for the importance of each area; results were used to construct a weighted quality-of-life score. Owners were also asked to provide a quality-of-life score with a visual analog scale (VAS).

Results—At initial and recheck evaluations, weighted quality-of-life scores were higher for ambulatory than for nonambulatory dogs. However, scores did not differ among groups when dogs were grouped on the basis of underlying etiology or duration of injury. Dogs with an increase in Frankel score between the initial and recheck evaluations had a significant increase in weighted quality-of-life score, whereas for dogs that did not have any change in Frankel score, initial and recheck weighted quality-of-life scores were not significantly different.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that owner-assigned, weighted quality-of-life scores for dogs with spinal cord injuries did not vary significantly on the basis of underlying etiology or duration of injury but were higher for ambulatory than for nonambulatory dogs.

Contributor Notes

The authors thank Alisha Onkst for assistance administering surveys, enrolling dogs, and collecting data and Dana Osterstock and Drs. Jennifer Au, Bonnie Beaver, and Mary A. Crist for enrolling dogs.

Address correspondence to Dr. Jonathan Levine.