Handling End-of-Life Situations in Small Animal Practice: What Strategies do Veterinarians Contemplate During their Decision-Making Process?

E. Deelen*, F. L.B. Meijboom, T. J. Tobias, F. Koster, J. W. Hesselink, T. B. Rodenburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


This study researched end-of-life (EoL) decision-making processes in small animal practices in the Netherlands, focusing on strategies veterinarians contemplate during this process. Fourteen veterinarians were interviewed about animal end-of-life decision-making. The results of these interviews show that the decision-making process consists of three steps. The first step is to assess the animal’s health and welfare. During the second step, veterinarians consider the position of the owner. Based on steps 1 and 2, veterinarians decide in step 3 whether their advice is to a) euthanize or b) contemplate one or more strategies to come to a decision or potentially alter the decision. These results can support members of the veterinary profession to reflect on their decision-making process. If veterinarians know what strategies their peers use to deal with EoL situations, this can help to reduce the stress they experience in such situations. In addition, veterinarians may find inspiration for new strategies in the study results. For the veterinary profession itself, the current results can be used as a starting point for describing best practices for EoL decision-making in small animal practice.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Research programs


Cite this