Managing the emotional highs and lows of everyday veterinary life.

Julia Dicconson
Content Manager
June 19, 2023

As a veterinarian, a typical day can be a roller coaster of emotions. From the joy of saving a beloved pet's life to the heartbreak of delivering bad news to the owners, the emotional highs and lows can take a toll on your wellbeing.

Working as a veterinarian requires not only medical expertise but also emotional resilience. The bond between humans and their pets is profound, and being responsible for the health and wellbeing of these cherished companions can evoke a wide range of emotions. 

In this article, we will explore effective strategies to help you manage and navigate these emotional challenges, ensuring your mental and emotional health remain a priority.

Understanding the emotional landscape of veterinary professionals.

Veterinary professionals experience a unique set of emotions due to the nature of their work. The immense satisfaction of healing and saving lives is often juxtaposed with the sadness and grief of losing patients or delivering difficult news to pet owners. 

It is crucial to acknowledge that these emotional experiences are a natural part of the job and to develop healthy coping mechanisms to ensure emotional wellbeing.

Recognising the impact of emotional highs and lows.

The emotional highs and lows of veterinary life can have a significant impact on one's mental health. Unmanaged stress, compassion fatigue, and burnout are common challenges faced by veterinary professionals. It is important to recognise the signs of emotional exhaustion and take proactive steps to mitigate their effects.

Coping strategies for managing emotional stress.

Self-care and wellness practices.

Taking care of your own wellbeing is essential when managing the emotional demands of veterinary work. Incorporate self-care practices into your daily routine, such as regular exercise, mindfulness exercises, and hobbies that bring you joy. Prioritise your physical and mental health to build resilience and cope better with stress.

Read: How to prioritise self-care in the veterinary field.

Building a support network.

Seeking support from colleagues and peers who understand the unique challenges of veterinary medicine can be immensely beneficial. Share your experiences, seek advice, and engage in supportive conversations. Building a strong support network can provide validation, perspective, and a safe space to express your emotions.

Seeking professional help.

There may be times when the emotional burden becomes overwhelming, and professional help is necessary. Don't hesitate to reach out to therapists or counsellors who specialise in working with veterinary professionals. They can provide guidance, coping strategies, and a confidential space to process your emotions.

Here is a list of support services, both general and veterinary specific:

The power of communication and emotional expression.

Talking to colleagues and peers.

Open and honest communication with your colleagues can be therapeutic and help alleviate emotional stress. Discussing challenging cases and sharing experiences can provide a sense of camaraderie and support. Regular check-ins or debriefing sessions with colleagues can create a space for reflection and emotional release.

 By fostering a culture of open communication within your veterinary team, you can collectively navigate the emotional highs and lows of the profession.

Engaging in supportive conversations with clients.

Effective communication with pet owners is not only essential for providing quality care but also for managing the emotional impact of veterinary work. Engage in compassionate conversations with clients, actively listening to their concerns and empathising with their emotions. 

This not only helps them cope with the situation but also allows you to share the emotional burden, as you are providing support and understanding.

Finding balance and setting boundaries.

In the demanding field of veterinary medicine, finding a balance between work and personal life is crucial. Set clear boundaries to protect your own wellbeing. Allocate time for activities outside of work that bring you joy and help you recharge.

It is essential to prioritise self-care and ensure that you have time for rest and relaxation, allowing you to approach your work with a renewed sense of energy and perspective.

Celebrating the victories and learning from the challenges.

Amidst the emotional challenges, it's important to celebrate the victories and acknowledge the positive impact you have on the lives of animals and their owners. Take time to reflect on successful outcomes and the difference you make every day. 

Additionally, view challenging situations as opportunities for growth and learning. Embrace them as valuable experiences that shape you into a more compassionate and resilient veterinary professional.

Final thoughts on managing emotions as a veterinarian.

Managing the emotional highs and lows of everyday veterinary life requires self-awareness, effective coping strategies, and a support network. By prioritising self-care, seeking support when needed, and fostering open communication, you can navigate the emotional challenges of your profession while maintaining your wellbeing. Remember, you are not alone in this journey, and there are resources available to support you every step of the way.


Q1: How can I manage the stress of delivering bad news to pet owners?

A: Delivering difficult news is undoubtedly challenging. It's important to prepare yourself emotionally, practise active listening, and offer empathy and support to pet owners. Seek guidance from experienced colleagues or consider attending communication workshops to enhance your skills in this area.

Q2: How can I prevent burnout as a veterinarian?

A: Preventing burnout involves self-care, setting boundaries, and seeking support. Take regular breaks, engage in activities that bring you joy, and ensure a healthy work-life balance. Don't hesitate to reach out for professional help if you find yourself struggling.

Q3: How can I cope with the loss of a patient?

A: Coping with the loss of a patient can be incredibly challenging. Allow yourself to grieve and process your emotions. Seek support from colleagues or consider joining support groups specifically designed for veterinary professionals dealing with pet loss.

Q4: Is it normal to feel emotionally exhausted as a veterinarian?

A: Yes, feeling emotionally exhausted is a common experience in the veterinary profession. The nature of the work can be emotionally demanding. It is essential to recognize the signs of emotional exhaustion and take proactive steps to prioritise self-care and seek support.

Q5: How can I find a therapist or counsellor who specialises in working with veterinary professionals?

A: You can start by contacting professional organisations such as the Australian Veterinary Association. They may be able to provide recommendations or resources for mental health professionals who have experience working with veterinary professionals. Alternatively, you can ask for recommendations within your workplace if you feel comfortable to do so, or reach out to general support services but mention the need for specialised help.

About Goodbye Good Boy.

At Goodbye Good Boy, we provide home euthanasia services to support loving owners in providing a peaceful passing for their beloved pets.

The team at Goodbye Good Boy offers individualised support to help you and your family navigate this difficult time by providing quality-of-life checks, in-home euthanasia, cremation and aftercare services, and personalised memorialisation options. 

To learn more about our pet end-of-life services, give our team of passionate pet lovers a call on 1800 953 619.