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A survey of animal welfare experts and practicing veterinarians to identify and explore key factors thought to influence canine and feline welfare in relation to veterinary care

By L. C. Dawson, C. E. Dewey, E. A. Stone, M. T. Guerin, L. Niel

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Abstract

Veterinary care is important for maintaining companion animal health; however, it also has the potential to impact other aspects of patient welfare. To investigate factors related to veterinary care that are likely to influence canine and feline welfare, animal welfare researchers, veterinarians with an expertise in animal welfare, and Canadian and American companion and mixed animal veterinarians were invited to participate in a three-stage online survey. Participants were asked to do the following: (i) identify factors related to the veterinary experience that impact patient welfare; (ii) rate the relative impact of each factor; and (iii) gauge the feasibility of measuring and improving each factor. Overall, 78 participants identified 85 factors that impact animal welfare in the clinic (eg restraint techniques) and home environment (eg advice regarding behaviour and training). Among factors, seven themes emerged: physical environment of the clinic; routine animal care provided by veterinary team members ('staff'); interactions between the patient, staff, and client; clinic management; medical and surgical procedures; staff attitudes and education; and communication between the veterinarian and client. Mean relative impact scores ranged from 1.0 to 3.8 on a five-point scale (0-4), with 70% of factors receiving a score greater than 3. Most participants (>80%) agreed that 68% of the identified factors could be feasibly improved in an average veterinary clinic and that 43% of the factors could be feasibly measured during a welfare assessment. These results identify key areas where veterinary care may impact the welfare of canine and feline patients and highlight priority areas where assessment and improvement are possible.

Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 25
Issue 1
Pages 125-134
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, 50 Stone Rd E, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada.niell@uoguelph.ca
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Tags
  1. Animal diseases
  2. Animal health and hygiene
  3. Animal hospitals
  4. Animals
  5. Animal welfare
  6. APEC countries
  7. Attitudes
  8. Canada
  9. Canidae
  10. Canine
  11. Carnivores
  12. Cats
  13. Commonwealth of Nations
  14. Countries
  15. Developed countries
  16. Dogs
  17. Education
  18. Feasibility
  19. Health
  20. Humans
  21. Interactions
  22. Mammals
  23. Men
  24. North America
  25. OECD countries
  26. peer-reviewed
  27. Pets and companion animals
  28. Primates
  29. researchers
  30. restraint
  31. surgery
  32. surveys
  33. Techniques
  34. training
  35. United States of America
  36. vertebrates
  37. Veterinarians
  38. veterinary practices
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed