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Exploring veterinarians’ use of practices aimed at understanding and providing emotional support to clients during companion animal euthanasia in Ontario, Canada
  1. Alisha R Matte,
  2. Deep K Khosa,
  3. Jason B Coe,
  4. Michael Meehan and
  5. Lee Niel
  1. Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph, Ontario Veterinary College, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Ms Alisha R Matte, Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada; amatte{at}


Background During companion animal euthanasia, support of clients is equally important as the medical care of the companion animal and requires a clear and developed understanding of clients' feelings, needs and expectations. Yet, veterinarians may not be fully exploring such topics.

Methods A 65-item online questionnaire was developed and distributed to veterinarians (n=368) in Ontario to explore veterinarians’ use of practices aimed at understanding and providing support during companion animal euthanasia. Measures included veterinarians’ use of previously identified communication and support practices, empathy, years in practice and amount of time scheduled for euthanasia appointments. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and multivariable regression.

Results Veterinarians reported consistently providing emotional support but inconsistently implementing practices that may assist in enhancing their understanding of clients’ expectations, previous or emotional experiences. Veterinarians’ empathy scores, years in practice and the amount of time scheduled for euthanasia were positively associated with use of these practices.

Conclusion Providing adequate time (ideally >30 min) for euthanasia appointments may assist in efforts to understand clients’ experiences, expectations and emotions, and provide support. Combining empathy, hands-on and self-care training in veterinary curriculum may also be valuable in improving the comfort level and skill of veterinarians in providing compassionate care.

  • companion animals
  • euthanasia
  • bond-centered care
  • empathy
  • support practices
  • end-of-life care
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  • Funding This study was funded by Ontario Veterinary College Pet Trust Fund.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

  • Data availability statement No data are available.

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