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A survey of veterinarians' attitudes toward euthanasia of companion animals in Japan

By H. Sugita, M. Irimajiri

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This study investigated veterinarians' attitudes toward euthanasia of companion animals in Japan. A nationwide survey was conducted with 932 veterinarians in small animal practices. It examined the number of times they administered euthanasia, their moral criteria for choosing euthanasia for animals, and their behavioral criteria for suggesting euthanasia to owners. According to the data analyses, on average the veterinarians administered euthanasia 2.48 times a year. For many veterinarians, two conditions were necessary to justify euthanasia for animals: "the animals are incurable and suffering" and "the owners request to euthanize the animals." In the absence of either condition, the veterinarians were inclined to disapprove of choosing euthanasia. If the owners requested further treatment, 67% showed clear disapproval of choosing euthanasia for animals with serious medical conditions. Meanwhile, more than 76% showed clear disapproval of euthanizing healthy animals when the owners requested it. These results indicate that the owners' request takes precedence over the animals' condition for suffering animals, but not for healthy animals. For animals with serious medical conditions, 56% of the veterinarians answered that they would or might suggest euthanasia to the owners even though the owners requested further treatment. In this situation, for some veterinarians, the animals' condition rather than the owners' request might become a determinant in suggesting euthanasia to owners, even if their moral judgments were against choosing euthanasia for the animals. A decrease in the owners' or the animals' quality of life and the owners' inability to pay were not primary factors in choosing or suggesting euthanasia. Having an experience of euthanizing their own animals was a key factor for the veterinarians which increased not only the number of times they administered euthanasia but also the degree of their moral approval of choosing euthanasia and their behavioral willingness to suggest it to owners.

Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 29
Issue 2
Pages 297-310
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI 10.1080/08927936.2016.1152722
Author Address Department of Economics, Osaka University of Commerce, 4-1-10 Mikuriyasakaemachi, Higashiosaka, Osaka 577-8505,
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Sugita, H.; Irimajiri, M. (2016), "A survey of veterinarians' attitudes toward euthanasia of companion animals in Japan,"

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  1. Animals
  2. Anthrozoology
  3. APEC countries
  4. Asia
  5. Attitudes
  6. Developed countries
  7. Euthanasia
  8. Humans
  9. Japan
  10. Mammals
  11. Men
  12. OECD countries
  13. Pets and companion animals
  14. Primates
  15. Psychiatry and psychology
  16. Quality of life
  17. Questionnaires
  18. Social psychology and social anthropology
  19. surveys
  20. vertebrates
  21. Veterinarians