The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) recognises that novel procedures may be necessary both in the interests of the individual animal and to improve the future veterinary care of animals.

The BSAVA recommends that veterinary surgeons considering the use of novel procedures should ensure that they have the relevant knowledge, skills and facilities to carry out the procedure as well as any emergency, palliative or salvage procedures that may be required.

The BSAVA recommends that the veterinary surgeon makes clear to the owner the nature of the procedure, the evidence that is and is not available regarding all the options and that the owner understands that the procedure is “novel”, in order to obtain informed consent.


September 2021

Background Information

A therapy may be considered novel if it fulfils any of the following criteria:

  • The therapy is completely original, that is, it is has never previously been performed for a particular condition affecting the species;
  • The therapy has previously been performed by a limited number of veterinary surgeons on animals of this species affected by a specific disease;
  • The therapy has previously been performed in a limited number of cases of this disease affecting this species;
  • The therapy involves a novel combination of previously accepted therapies (e.g. a new protocol);
  • The therapy involves significant modifications to accepted treatments;
  • The therapy involves the application of an accepted therapy to a condition for which it is not accepted as a treatment in a particular species (Yeates et al., 2013).


Yeates J, Everitt S, Innes JF and Day MJ (2013) Ethical and evidential considerations on the use of novel therapies in veterinary practice. Journal of Small Animal Practice 54 (3), pp 119-123.


Reviewed by members of BSAVA Scientific Committee (Sarah Caddy, Alexander German, Jeremy Kirk, Caroline Kisielewicz, Lisa Morrow, Ian Self, Melissa Upjohn, James Warland) 2021

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