Veterinary Oath

The Veterinarian Oath:
Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, and to adhere to a code of conduct that ensures the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.
I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics. I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence[1].

This differs markedly from the Hippocratic oath (Ιπποκράτειος_όρκος) which upholds the tenet of Primum non nocere (first do no harm), yet prohibits abortion, surgery, euthanasia, and the dissemination of academic knowledge by general practitioners:

I swear by Apollo, the healer, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath and agreement:
To consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and, if necessary, to share my goods with him; To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art.
I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.
I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.
But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.
I will not perform surgery, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.
In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves.
All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.
If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot[2].


  1. The notion that no animals or only some animals (e.g. species variant pain felt by a dog compared with a fish) do not feel pain is antiquated and cannot be fostered by any veterinarian. Pain is felt by all creatures, great and small and must, at all times, be addressed, or at least acknowledged.
  2. In the use of animals as food production for humans, welfare during their life is paramount and their death given a modicum of dignity[3].
  3. In the use of animals in experimentation, all animals are managed according to best animal welfare practices through informed, confident and proactive ‘industries’, with minimal harm and minimal experimentation procedures recommended[4].
  4. To let an animal die a “natural death” when euthanasia is available is cruel, not only to the patient but to its loved ones. It has been shown that owners whose pets died naturally experienced significantly more total grief, social isolation, and loss of control compared to owners who had their pets euthanized[5].[6].
  5. To allow uncontrolled breeding or avoid pregnancy termination in animals whose offspring’s welfare cannot be guaranteed by the carer is to be ignorant of future pain by that animal(s) and is, by implication, negligent cruelty[7].


  1. ↑ American Veterinary Medical Association (2004)
  2. ↑ Wikipedia
  3. ↑ ESFA Animal Welfare
  4. ↑ AWSC Animal Welfare
  5. ↑ McCutcheon, K. A., & Fleming, S. J., (2001) Grief resulting from euthanasia and natural death of companion animals
  6. ↑ Frid, MH & Perea, AT (2007) Euthanasia & thanatology in small animals. Journal of Veterinary Behavior 2:35-39
  7. ↑ “HSUS Pet Overpopulation Estimates” The Humane Society of the United States, 7 July 2008

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