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Commentary

Ethical Challenges Posed by Advanced Veterinary Care in Companion Animal Veterinary Practice

1
Sydney School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
2
School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul Mills
Animals 2021, 11(11), 3010; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113010
Received: 21 September 2021 / Revised: 17 October 2021 / Accepted: 18 October 2021 / Published: 20 October 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Therapeutics and Advanced Veterinary Care)
Veterinary care of companion animals, particularly dogs and cats, continues to advance, with some companion animals receiving a standard of care equal to or exceeding that of human patients. While this has the potential to improve animal welfare and benefit other stakeholders, including animal owners and veterinary team members, it also poses ethical challenges. We discuss key ethical challenges associated with AVC, including its relationship to standards of veterinary care, its potential to perpetuate poor quality of life and suffering, cost and accessibility of veterinary care, conflicts of interest, and concerns about experimentation without appropriate ethical review. We conclude by suggesting some strategies for veterinary teams and other stakeholders, such as professional bodies and regulators, to address these concerns.
Advanced veterinary care (AVC) of companion animals may yield improved clinical outcomes, improved animal welfare, improved satisfaction of veterinary clients, improved satisfaction of veterinary team members, and increased practice profitability. However, it also raises ethical challenges. Yet, what counts as AVC is difficult to pinpoint due to continuing advancements. We discuss some of the challenges in defining advanced veterinary care (AVC), particularly in relation to a standard of care (SOC). We then review key ethical challenges associated with AVC that have been identified in the veterinary ethics literature, including poor quality of life, dysthanasia and caregiver burden, financial cost and accessibility of veterinary care, conflicts of interest, and the absence of ethical review for some patients undergoing AVC. We suggest some strategies to address these concerns, including prospective ethical review utilising ethical frameworks and decision-making tools, the setting of humane end points, the role of regulatory bodies in limiting acceptable procedures, and the normalisation of quality-of-life scoring. We also suggest a role for retrospective ethical review in the form of ethics rounds and clinical auditing. Our discussion reenforces the need for a spectrum of veterinary care for companion animals. View Full-Text
Keywords: advanced veterinary care; standard of care; companion animals; veterinary ethics; conflict of interest; quality of life; dysthanasia advanced veterinary care; standard of care; companion animals; veterinary ethics; conflict of interest; quality of life; dysthanasia
MDPI and ACS Style

Quain, A.; Ward, M.P.; Mullan, S. Ethical Challenges Posed by Advanced Veterinary Care in Companion Animal Veterinary Practice. Animals 2021, 11, 3010. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113010

AMA Style

Quain A, Ward MP, Mullan S. Ethical Challenges Posed by Advanced Veterinary Care in Companion Animal Veterinary Practice. Animals. 2021; 11(11):3010. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113010

Chicago/Turabian Style

Quain, Anne, Michael P. Ward, and Siobhan Mullan. 2021. "Ethical Challenges Posed by Advanced Veterinary Care in Companion Animal Veterinary Practice" Animals 11, no. 11: 3010. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113010

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