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Principles of ethical decision-making in veterinary practice
  1. Siobhan Mullan

    Siobhan Mullan graduated from Glasgow in 1997 and joined a mixed practice in Oxfordshire. She is currently a clinical fellow in first opinion small animal practice at the University of Bristol and holds the RCVS certificate in animal welfare science, ethics and law.

  2. David Main

    David Main graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 1992. He gained a PhD from Bristol in 1997 and spent two years as a resident in farm animal health and welfare. He is now a part-time research associate at Bristol and offers consultancy services on quality assurance schemes. He holds the RCVS diploma in animal welfare science, ethics and law.


VETERINARY surgeons are frequently faced with ethical dilemmas. Consideration of animal welfare and ethical issues is an essential component of good clinical practice in veterinary medicine and surgery. This article discusses the key steps involved in the ethical decision-making process. While using the ethical frameworks described may not change the actual decisions made by clinicians, an understanding of ethical issues is important for client communication, improving job satisfaction and maintaining a positive public profile - for both the individual vet and the profession at large.

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