When it comes to end-of-life discussions, veterinarians wear multiple hats—unbiased doctor, advocate for the animal, and therapist to the client. The greater the family’s attachment to an animal is, the greater the veterinarian’s stress regarding discussion of and decisions about euthanasia. This is no small problem: The moral stress associated with euthanasia is the most significant cause of job dissatisfaction among veterinarians.
We all share significant events with our clients, but none are more important than assisting our terminally ill or elderly patients with euthanasia. As a new graduate I found this procedure quite nerve-racking and onerous. So many small things could go wrong and further distress already upset clients; for example, patients biting and/or scratching while resisting venipuncture, occasionally stiffening their entire body in extensor rigidity, and 1 or 2 producing a nerve shattering vocalisation as they supposedly slide ‘quietly’ into the afterlife.