Background While euthanasia is a common feature of veterinary practice, research has yet to adequately explore the experiences, perception and wishes of pet owners, including their satisfaction and grief following companion animal euthanasia.
Methods An online questionnaire was conducted with pet owners who had experienced euthanasia within the last 10 years to explore the relationship between pet owners’ experiences and their resulting satisfaction and grief following companion animal euthanasia. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and multivariable linear regression.
Results Overall, participants (N=2354) reported high levels of satisfaction with their euthanasia experience. Their experience with the administration practices (i.e., payment and paperwork), emotional support, follow-up care and care for their pet’s remains was found to be associated with overall satisfaction. Participants’ grief was associated with the number of euthanasia previously experienced, the type of human–animal bond, if the euthanasia was emergent and the emotional support they received.
Conclusion Findings contribute to existing research and shed light on some of the most important practices associated with companion animal euthanasia. Several practical recommendations are made, including developing standard operating procedures for companion animal euthanasia; exploring owners’ previous experiences, expectations and emotions; the importance of reassurance; and access to grief resources and services.
- companion animal euthanasia
- pet owner perspectives
- multivariable regression
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Funding This research was supported by a grant from the Ontario Veterinary College Pet Trust Fund. This publication is part of ARM's PhD dissertation, the stipend for which was funded by an Ontario Veterinary College Scholarship and the Ethel Rose Charney Scholarship in the Human-Animal Bond.
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval The study protocol was reviewed and approved by the University of Guelph Research Ethics Board (REB#14MY006) for compliance with federal guidelines for research involving human participants.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author (ARM). The data are not publicly available due to restrictions (ie, containing information that could compromise the privacy of research participants).
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