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Mars Petcare Researchers Develop New Quality of Life Assessment to Evaluate the Wellbeing of Dogs

Study published in Scientific Reports reviews new data-led approach to measuring and quantifying canine wellbeing

a dog smiling at the camera

Researchers from Mars Petcare, including Waltham Petcare Science Institute and Banfield Pet Hospital®, developed a quality of life (QoL) assessment that evaluates dog health and wellbeing. The assessment is based on a 32-item questionnaire for pet owners to report on their dog’s behaviors 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.

“Wellbeing is a focal point for dog owners and veterinary professionals alike,” said Nefertiti Greene, President, Science & Diagnostics, Mars Petcare. “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.

“From a veterinarian's perspective, the QoL assessment will deliver valuable information on how veterinary care can help improve pet outcomes,” said Jennifer Welser, DVM, DACVO, Chief Medical Officer, Mars Veterinary Health. “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.

For more information on the assessment and the study visit https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-16315-y

About the QoL assessment and study

  • The QoL questionnaire quantifies dog health and wellbeing across five daytime domains and three mealtime domains. The daytime domains are classified as energetic (the dog’s level of activity); mobile (underlying mechanistic ability); relaxed (general calmness and absence of fear and worry); happy (absence of a sad and depressed demeanor); and sociable (affectionate and loving behavior towards owners and other pets). The mealtime domains are classified as relaxed (calm behavior around the meal as evidenced by the absence of stress); interested (interest and excitement for the meal); and satisfied (extent to which the dog is full or satisfied after the meal).
  • The objective of the study was to develop a comprehensive canine quality of life assessment which can serve a wide range of applications and is amenable to large-scale data collection.
  • 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.