The two most important home tests to do when trying to assess whether or not it is in your pet's best interest to proceed with euthanasia are the Quality of Life test and the Pain list.
First, lets look at the Quality of Life Scale:
A scoring system for life quality called the HHHHHMM Scale was developed by Dr. Alice Villalobos. The letters stand for: Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Hygiene, Happiness, Mobility and More Good Days than Bad. It is an excellent tool for evaluating and keeping track of your pet’s Quality of Life as the disease or end of life process progresses. For more information, please visit our Quality of Life page. In order to perform this test, assign scores from 0-10 on each of the criteria on the scale. A score of 35 or more indicates acceptable Life Quality.
Adapted by Villalobos, A.E., Quality of Life Scale Helps Make Final Call, VPN, 09/2004, for Canine and Feline Geriatric Oncology Honoring the Human-Animal Bond, by Blackwell Publishing, Table 10.1, released 2006.
**For help in assessing the "Hurt" criterion, see the section on "Understanding Pain".
It is recommended to start keeping track of your pet's Quality of Life scale score as soon as you know that he has a terminal disease or as soon as you realize that he has a chronic progressive condition (such as arthritis). Keep a journal with his QoL scale score and the date. You can repeat the test monthly, weekly, daily... depending on how fast his condition is progressing.
I also recommend that you make a sort of a contract with yourself early on. Sit down and think of your pet's favorite activities, the things he enjoys most, his current condition... and think of how far into the illness you want to take your pet. Write down some of the things that are likely to happen as the condition progresses and what you wil not permit to happen (for example, that you will make the decision before the time comes when he cannot get up anymore, or list some of the things your pet likes to do and make a contract with yourself that once he ceases, for example, to be interested in his favorite toy, won't wag his tail at your arrival, doesn't enjoy his walks... etc... those are just examples. Make the list personal according to your baby's favorite things.)
In order to assess if your pet is in pain, you can scan the list below and see if your pet exhibits several of those pain indicators. For a more precise use of this list, as in the case of seeking to achieve optimal pain management, it is recommended to print the list, date it and place a score from 1-10 on each of those pain indicators (0 being that the symptom is absent and 10 being maximum manifestation of the symptom). Then repeat the test periodically after initiating pain management or modifying your pet's pain management protocol. Keeping track of these symptoms and how their intensity varies throughout the course of the disease will help you monitor the progress and the success of any pain management being conducted. You can compare the scores gotten from week to week by looking at the prior results and put them in date order in a folder. And it will also enable you to see when pain management is no longer effective and when it may be time to let your pet go.