Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Exploring how end-of-life management is taught to Australasian veterinary students. Part 1: technical euthanasia
  1. Katherine E Littlewood1,
  2. Ngaio J Beausoleil1,
  3. Kevin J Stafford1,
  4. Christine Stephens2,
  5. Teresa Collins3,
  6. Anne Fawcett4,
  7. Susan Hazel5,
  8. Janice K F Lloyd6,
  9. Catherine Mallia7,
  10. Leonie Richards8,
  11. Nicole K Wedler3 and
  12. Sarah Zito9
  1. 1Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre, School of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
  2. 2School of Psychology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
  3. 3College of Veterinary Medicine, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, Australia
  4. 4Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  5. 5School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Roseworthy, South Australia, Australia
  6. 6Discipline of Veterinary Sciences, College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia
  7. 7School of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, Charles Sturt University, Albury, New South Wales, Australia
  8. 8School of Veterinary Science, University of Melbourne, Werribee, Victoria, Australia
  9. 9Animal Welfare Science and Education Department, Royal New Zealand SPCA National Office, Auckland, New Zealand
  1. E-mail for correspondence; k.littlewood{at}


This descriptive study explored how end-of-life management was taught to students in all eight Australasian veterinary schools. A questionnaire-style interview guide was used by a representative at each university to conduct structured interviews with educators in a snowball sampling approach. Four categories of animals were addressed: livestock, equine, companion and avian/wildlife. This article focuses on the first part of the questionnaire: teaching the technical aspects of euthanasia. Euthanasia techniques were taught at more universities in clinical years than preclinical years. Clinical teaching relied on opportunities presenting, for example, euthanasia consultations. Few universities gave students a chance to practise euthanasia during a consultation and those that did were all with livestock. Competency in euthanasia techniques is an important aspect of clinical practice and these findings can be used to inform curriculum reviews of veterinary training.

  • euthanasia
  • veterinary education
  • animal welfare
  • ethics
  • veterinary curriculum
  • veterinary competence
View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.