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As your pet enters his final chapter of life, there are a lot of difficult questions that may come to mind, including:

“Is my pet in pain?”
“Am I making the right decisions?”
“Is my pet still enjoying life?”
“Am I doing too much…or not enough?”

If you’re facing these questions, please know you’re not alone. We understand the challenges you’re experiencing, and we’re here to give you the tools you need to answer these questions.

Our guide for evaluating your pet’s quality of life will help you recognize signs of pain in dogs and cats, so you can make informed decisions as they age.

Quality of Life for Your Pet

Assessing quality of life involves taking a detailed look at how your pet’s physical, emotional, and social wellbeing is affected by disease or age-related challenges. Quality of life for pets is determined by weighing the good and bad factors affecting your pet’s daily life.

Panting dog

Being able to create a good quality of life for your pet depends on a few factors, including:

  • How well you are able to manage their pain and illness
  • How well you are able to keep them as pain free and comfortable as possible
  • The majority of days have a net balance of “more good than bad”

Determining your pet’s quality of life is a delicate balancing act, and it’s not always easy or clear to answer the question, “How is my pet really feeling?”

Since this is often a complex and personal process, it can be helpful to use an individualized tool, like our BEAP Pain Scale for Pets, to visualize your pet’s total wellbeing.

BEAP Scale: Signs of Pain in Dogs and Cats

Pain plays a huge role in your pet’s quality of life. However, it can be challenging to know whether or not your pet is experiencing discomfort. Each individual pet may express signs of pain differently, and they can’t tell us what’s wrong in our own language.

That’s why it’s important to tune into their language, and look for signs of pain through their actions and behaviors, which may often include very subtle changes.

The BEAP Scale is designed to help you understand your pet’s quality of life by observing the behaviors and actions in their day-to-day life at home with you. Our version features eight indicators of pain, so you can better understand how your pet is feeling.

“B” is for Breathing
Pay attention to changes in your pet’s breathing patterns, like increased panting or faster breathing rate.

“E” is for Eyes
Look into your pet’s eyes to notice changes like dimness, depression, or a “something’s not quite right” look.

“A” is for Ambulation
Watch your pet walk around and look for new changes like slowing down, hesitation around stairs, stiffness or limping.

“A” is for Activity
Consider changes to your pet’s activity, like signs of agitation, decreased activity or engagement, and lack of response.

“A” is for Appetite
Assess any appetite changes with your pets, like decreased eating and drinking, and fussiness or lack of interest at meal time.

“A” is for Attitude
Be aware of attitude changes, like avoidance or aversion to touch and affection, that can indicate signs of pain.

“P” is for Posture
Watch your pet when he is standing or sitting still, and look for signs of shifting weight, tail tucking, and hunching or arching.

“P” is for Palpation
Palpation simply means touch. Tune into subtle responses to physical touch like body tension and unusual reaction or response.

It’s important to note that dogs and cats respond to pain differently, which is why we created two versions of the BEAP Pain Scale. While the categories and high level signs remain the same, each scale describes specific behavioral indicators of your dog or cat’s quality of life.

Steps to Measure Your Pet’s Quality of Life

#1. Watch the Video Tutorials

Learn exactly what to look for in each area of the BEAP Pain Scale. Click on the dog or cat playlist below to take a deeper dive into the eight pain categories.

BEAP Pain Scale for Dogs

Understand the BEAP Pain Scale for dogs and learn how to assess your dog’s pain at home.

BEAP Pain Scale for Cats

Watch the BEAP Pain Scale for cats video tutorials to discover how cats react to pain.

#2. Download the BEAP Pain Scale Checklist & Quality of Life Calendar

Keep a continual log of your pet’s pain levels by completing a daily BEAP Pain Scale checklist. Read the descriptions for each of the eight categories and check which ones best apply to your pet’s behavior and responses.

Our checklist helps you quantify your pet’s pain using a 1-10 scale. You’ll notice the checklist includes several numbered sections, ranging from “0” or no pain, to “9-10” or worst pain possible.

Then, make a note of the number from the pain scale on the Quality of Life Calendar to make it easy to keep track and watch for trends in your pet’s pain.

Pain Scale for Cats

Download Checklist

Pain Scale for Dogs

Download Checklist

Quality of Life Calendar

Download Calendar

You Know Best

One of the hardest questions you’ll have to ask in your pet’s life journey is, “When is the right time to put my pet down?”

We’re often asked how vets know when it’s time to euthanize, and unfortunately, the answer to this question is complex and deeply personal to each individual pet we treat. In our experience, no two end of life experiences are ever the same.

We can say with certainty, however, the most valuable source of knowledge when it comes to quality of life is you – the pet parent. You are your pet’s number one advocate, and you’re in sync with their daily life and behaviors.

That makes you the best interpreter of their quality of life language. You are best suited to look for subtle changes that indicate discomfort and you can sense when something is “off.”

Quality of life is always evolving, and you’re the one who can help identify your pet’s challenges and support them to live as comfortably as possible.

The tools and information you just learned are designed to empower you to make informed decisions with confidence. But if you’re having any doubts, we are here for you. If you need a helping hand in deciding what’s best for your loved one, please don’t hesitate to book a virtual quality of life consultation.