Vets faced with high moral distress


stress in the veterinary profession

A majority of veterinarians experience widespread moral distress when receiving inappropriate requests for euthanasia and in instances of being unable to provide care, according to a new US study.

The study—published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicinesurveyed 889 veterinarians in North America to investigate the incidence of ethical conflicts, moral distress, and burnout in veterinary practice.

It found a majority of respondents reported feeling conflict over what care is appropriate to provide.

Over 70 per cent of respondents felt the obstacles they faced that prevented them from providing appropriate care caused them or their staff moderate to severe distress.

Nearly 64 per cent of vets and their staff also felt moderate to severe stress after getting inappropriate requests from owners to euthanise their pets, while 79 per cent of participants reported being asked to provide care they considered futile.

“My assumption is the findings from our survey are definitely part of, or even the majority of, the reason why veterinarians have higher than average suicide rates,” Harvard Medical School bioethicist J. Wesley Boyd said.

The study further revealed that more than 70 per cent of participants reported no training in conflict resolution or self‐care.


  1. Many of these are influenced by TV shows which hide the the reality of the profession.
    This is a profession dealing with life and death every day. I have had young vets refusing to euthenase an animal. The distress to the owners who in most cases have spent many distressing hours making the decission is obvious and has led to the suggestion the vet in question should seek other employment.

  2. Yet in the USA inthe more urban areas, most Veterinary practices will deny care to the pets of people who can’t afford to pay for the care, and and in many of these instances are paid to instead euthanize the pets that could have been saved if the Vet would have taken a chance on a payment plan or a reduced fee. In fact, some Vets in Urban areas here, have the receptionist collect payment for the 1st basic office visit of a new client- before they will even meet the customer and potential patient- worried the client might not pay them or come up short. Very often people are forced to euthanize their pets who have treatable conditions if a Vet will not extend credit for their treatment- euthanasia is the more affordable option.


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