• Open Access

Evaluation of a Quality-of-Life Tool for Dogs with Diabetes Mellitus


  • Part of the study was presented as an abstract at the annual congress of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association 2009, Birmingham, UK

Corresponding author: S.J.M. Niessen, DVM, PhD, DipECVIM-CA (Internal Medicine), MRCVS; Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Royal Veterinary College, University of London, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hertfordshire, AL9 7TA, UK; e-mail: sniessen@rvc.ac.uk.



Diabetes mellitus (DM) management primarily focuses on improvement in blood glucose concentrations and clinical signs. A tool to assess the psychological and social impact of DM and its treatment on quality of life (QoL) previously has only been validated for feline DM.


To validate a diabetic pet and owner-centered individualized measure of impact of DM (DIAQoL-pet) for diabetic dogs and their owners.


A total of 101 owners of insulin-treated diabetic dogs were recruited to complete the DIAQoL-pet.


Discussions and pilot surveys with clinicians and owners of diabetic pets led to the design of 29 specific DM-associated QoL questions. Each item was scored according to impact frequency and perceived importance. An Item-Weighted-Impact-Score (IWIS) for each item was calculated, as was an Average-Weighted-Impact-Score (AWIS) by averaging all IWISs. Principal component analysis and Cronbach's α calculation assessed the measure's reliability.


The DIAQoL-pet showed high reliability (Communalities ≥0.5; Cronbach's α 0.85). The AWIS was −2.74 ± 1.7 (mean ± SD). Areas reported as most negatively impacting QoL included: “worry” (IWIS ± SD: −5.92 ± 4.3), “difficulties leaving dog with friends or family” (−5.68 ± 5.1), “worry vision” (−5.58 ± 4.6), “boarding difficulties” (−5.18 ± 5.2), “worry hypoglycemia” (−4.95 ± 4.3), “social life” (−4.82 ± 4.4), “costs” (−4.11 ± 4.7), and “future care”(−4.07 ± 4.6). Eighty-four percent of owners reported negative impact of DM on QoL.

Conclusions and Clinical Importance

The DIAQoL-pet proved robust when used by owners of insulin-treated diabetic dogs and identified specific areas most negatively impacting dogs' and their owners' QoL. This tool could be used as an additional assessment parameter in clinical and research settings.