Virbac's compassionate care survey probes end-of-life care practices

Virbac's compassionate care survey probes end-of-life care practices

Jul 01, 2011

DALLAS — Almost half of the veterinarians surveyed are having end-of-life discussions with pet owners more than 11 times per month.

A recent "Compassionate Care Online Survey" from Virbac Animal Health sought to measure veterinarians and veterinary technicians attitudes and practices regarding euthanasia. The online survey achieved responses from 257 veterinarians (with an error margin of ±6.1 percent) and 148 veterinary technicians (with an error margin of ±7.8 percent).

Discussions on at-home care
Michael Walsh, Virbac's market development manager, reports that one of the survey's goals was to measure "some of the formalized policies that are out there regarding end-of-life care." Topics like communication, hospital procedures/practices and compassion fatigue were all addressed in the survey. As part of its effort to better understand current practices, an advisory council was assembled and asked to weigh in and talk about the issues surrounding end-of-life care for most veterinarians and veterinary technicians.

Assistance for pet owners
The council members included animal-health stalwarts Drs. Cindy Adams, Lisa Moses, Kathy Mitchener, Kelly Moffat, Kate Knutson, William Grant II and veterinary technician Katherine Dobbs.

Quality of life scale
This subject, according to Grant, is by far the most important discussion a veterinarian and client will ever have about the care of their pet. These are life-and-death decisions.

Euthanasia protocols
Some of the most frequently cited practices included offering to provide the pet owner with the pet's ashes (93 percent), use of sedation prior to administration of euthanasia drug (73 percent), offering a separate room for euthanasia (47 percent), preferred owners to be present (37 percent), grief counseling by clinic or off-site service (35 percent).