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Veterinarian's dilemma: a study of how Danish small animal practitioners handle financially limited clients
  1. S. V. Kondrup, MSc1,
  2. K. P. Anhøj, DVM2,
  3. C. Rødsgaard-Rosenbeck, DVM2,
  4. T. B. Lund, PhD1,
  5. M. H. Nissen, DVM3 and
  6. P. Sandøe, D.Phil.(Oxon.)1
  1. 1Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 25, Frederiksberg C. 1958, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2Department of Large Animal Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Grønnegårdsvej 8, Frederiksberg C. 1870, Copenhagen, Denmark
  3. 3Department of Veterinary Clinical and Animal Sciences, University Hospital for Companion Animals, University of Copenhagen, Dyrlægevej 16, Frederiksberg C. 1870, Copenhagen, Denmark
  4. 4Peter Sandøe also at Department of Large Animal Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Grønnegårdsvej 8, Frederiksberg C. 1870, Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. E-mail for correspondence: pes{at}


This study examined the extent to which Danish veterinary practices encounter financially limited clients and how different factors relating to the animal, the client and the veterinarian affect decisions to provide treatment for these clients. 300 small animal practices were invited to participate in an online survey. 195 participated, giving a response rate of 65 per cent. The results show that Danish small animal veterinary practices encounter clients with limited finances regularly: 33.8 per cent of them 3–4 times, 24.6 per cent 5–10 times and 19.5 per cent 1–2 times a month. Only around 9 per cent reported having a written practice policy on handling financially limited clients. Factors affecting decisions to treat include the severity and type of the animal's condition, the medical care needed and the client's expressed emotions. The propensity to treat is significantly higher in female veterinarians and in situations involving unborn animals. The overall conclusion is that small animal veterinary practices often provide treatment to clients who are not able to pay—far beyond what is legally required. This can be considered a major economic and psychological challenge for the practising veterinarians.

  • Companion animals
  • Ethics
  • Practice management
  • Veterinary profession
  • Economics
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