Enhancing quality of life for dogs and cats in confined situations
An international panel of experts in the fields of canine and feline health, welfare and behaviour conducted an online discussion addressing two questions: (1) how can one define quality of life (QoL) for dogs and cats in confined living situations, such as laboratories; and (2) what additional research is needed to determine how optimal QoL can be achieved? The panel suggested that QoL encompasses animal welfare and the subjective 'feelings' of the animal regarding its life, and that it can only be inferred from behavioural, physiological and other measures. Two methods for measuring QoL were proposed: establishing an ethogram defining QoL for individuals; and developing a 'quality of living' scale that can be applied to facilities housing groups of dogs and cats. Constructing these measures requires a comprehensive research program, and the paper discusses overall research objectives, specific questions that must be addressed, and some proposed research methods.
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