To examine the opinions among small animal owners regarding the management of pain and surgery in small animals.
A questionnaire was presented to 800 owners of dogs or cats who visited one of the four participating clinics in Finland in February 2006.
A total of 482 owners completed the questionnaire (60.3 per cent response rate); 90 per cent of the respondents were female. Owners classified surgical procedures (for example, fracture repair, skin tumour removal and neutering) as more painful than medical conditions (otitis externa and lameness). In addition, owners disagreed most with statements that they had received sufficient information on the appropriate methods of management of animal pain and that the recognition of animal pain is easy. With respect to surgical procedures, owners expressed greatest concern in relation to the animal experiencing fear or anxiety during hospitalisation and the presence of postoperative pain.
The animal owners had concerns about the presence and management of animal pain, fear and anxiety. Knowledge of these animal owner opinions could aid veterinary practitioners when communicating with their clients on medical and surgical patient management. Furthermore, studies are merited to clearly define how best to successfully respond to these owner attitudes.