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Caring for Your Dog During the Sunset of Life

Caring for Your Dog During the Sunset of Life

Caring for Your Dog During the Sunset of Life

Have you had that experience where you notice your Four-legged friend is:  slowing down, spending more time resting than wanting to interact, not as excited about walks or even treats any longer?  And your thoughts start to contemplate their age in dog years?  Whether it is your first dog or you have had many dog life mates, it can be one of the hardest decisions you have ever had to make, contemplating the sunset of your beloved pet’s life.

 Dr. Alice Villalobos, a renowned veterinarian oncologist gives us some useful tools,  She advises her patients to use the tool of the “HHHHHMM”  The Quality of Life Scale :

The five H’s and two M’s

  • Hurt
  • Hunger
  • Hydration
  • Happiness
  • Hygiene (the ability to keep the pet clean)
  • Mobility
  • Move (as in more good days than bad)


Dr. Villalobos recommends grading each category on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being poorest quality of life and 10 being the best).  If the majority of categories  are ranked or above, continuing with supportive care is acceptable.

 In addition to Dr. Villalobos’ Quality of Life Scale,  two additional points that  we think could be helpful to canine owners when having to begin thinking about a pet’s sunset hours:

 •   The rule of 5 Good Things. Pick the five top things your pet loves to do.  Write them down.  When he or she can no longer do three or more of them, quality of life has been impacted to a level where many veterinarians would recommend euthanasia.

•   Good Days vs. Bad.  When pets have “good days and bad days,” it can be difficult to see how their condition is progressing over time.  Actually tracking the days when your pet is feeling good as well as the days when he or she is not feeling well can be helpful.  A checkmark for good days and an X for bad days on your calendar can help you determine when a loved one is having more bad days than good. (

We hope these tip and insights might aid our Nature Gnaws friends when they begin their sunset journey with their furry family members. Please share your stories, tips, and advice on this difficult subject. The Nature Gnaws Community is place for sharing thoughts and expertise so if you have anything to add please chime in. 

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