Quality of life is defined as an individual's satisfaction with its physical and psychological health, its physical and social environment, and its ability to interact with the environment. Understanding companion dogs' QOL can help veterinarians and owners know when treatment options have successfully alleviated symptoms of disease in such fields as veterinary physiotherapy.
For this study, 20 adult dogs were selected from patients of a physiotherapy referral center with orthopedic, neurological, and/or degenerative conditions. The severity of the medical problem was ranked, and the symptoms, the treatment plan, and demographic data were recorded at the time of the physical examination. In addition, the owner of the dog was asked to fill out a questionnaire on the quality of life of the pet (the Milan Pet Quality of Life scale) at the time of the first consultation as well as the last follow-up after the treatment. The MPQL measures four domains of QOL: physical (signs of medical conditions), psychological (emotional and behavioral well-being), social (quality and extent of social interactions), and environmental (freedom and safety in one's environment).
The results of the study indicated a significant improvement in the psychological QOL domain following physiotherapeutic treatment. The social QOL domain declined with the severity of lameness, while the physical QOL, as reported by the owner, declined with the overall criticality of the medical condition, as ranked by the physiotherapist.
The results of the study support the recent evidence of a relationship between pain and canine psychological well-being and highlight the importance of investigating psychological and emotional aspects of dogs' QOL when treating orthopedic and neurological cases with physiotherapy.