Evaluation of delayed euthanasia in cats and dogs using electronic health records (EHRs)


AWF Research Fund



Research Period


Area of study

Companion Animals


Investigator(s): Carol Gray

This project is designed to investigate the reasons for delayed euthanasia in dogs and cats, and its resulting welfare impact.

Delayed euthanasia can be identified from consultations where euthanasia has been advised or discussed but has not been carried out during that specific consultation. The delay may be caused by a variety of reasons. These can be extrapolated from the electronic health records (EHRs), or "consultation records," for the animal patients involved, through analysis of the recorded conversations between owners and veterinary surgeons. Although the quality of the EHRs will vary, this project aims to select those records where the conversation has been recorded in some detail to enable analysis of the factors that may lead to delay. Similar numbers of consultations involving cats and dogs will be analysed separately to enable species-specific outcomes to be reported.

These factors which affect delay will be reported, and, supported by current veterinary palliative care research, may be used to suggest an enhanced approach to palliative care and improved communication strategies for conducting end-of-life conversations, ensuring that the 'best interests' of the animal patient are prioritised.