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Euthanasia

pequis

Introduction

Indications

  • Required for cases where finances or available treatments are inadequate to satisfactorily reduce the horse's suffering.

Goals

  • Use minimal pain and distress in order to bring about death.
  • Technique should result in loss of consciousness → cardiac arrest → loss of brain function.

Considerations

  • Safety of personnel.
  • Adequate restraint and facilities.
  • Advance arrangements for carcass disposal for elective euthanasia.
  • Have the following contact numbers (where appropriate) readily available at the practice:
    • Knackerman.
    • Hunt kennelman.
    • Licensed horse slaughterer.
    • Local authority.
    • Incinerator.
    • Animal crematorium.
  • Try to acquire some experience in euthanasia of horses with an experienced equine veterinarian or knackerman.

Ideal method

  • Death should be instantaneous, quiet and without premonition.
  • Agent should be safe for both operator and public.
  • Agent should be easy to store and handle.
  • Agent should be convenient to administer.
  • Agent should not cause problems with carcass disposal.
  • Handle horse quietly at all times - use good head restraint, eg twitch Restraint methods or chemical restraint Anesthesia: standing chemical restraint.

Location

  • In emergency situations, the site at which euthanasia is performed is often predetermined.
  • Ease of access for knacker wagon should be considered.
  • The horse may fall in such a way as to create additional difficulties.
  • Shield procedure and carcass from public view where possible, eg hand-held tarpaulins.

Euthanasia in a horse box or alongside a previously prepared grave can be extremely dangerous.

Print off the Owner factsheets on Coping with the loss of a petEuthanasia - saying goodbyeExplaining pet loss to children and Insurance - do I need it? to give to your clients.

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Knottenbelt D C (1995) Euthanasia of horses - alternatives to the bullet. In Pract 17 (10), 462-465 WileyOnline.
  • Knottenbelt D C et al (1994) Humane destruction of horses with a mixture of quinalbarbital and cinchocaine. Vet Rec 134 (13), 319-324 PubMed.
  • American Veterinary Medical Association (1993) Report of AVMA panel on euthanasia. JAVMA 202 (2), 229-249 PubMed.
  • Jones R S, Knottenbelt D K, Mason K & O'Donnell E (1992) Euthanasia of horses. Vet Rec 130 (24), 544 PubMed.
  • Jones R S (1992) Euthanasia in horses. Equine Vet Educ (3), 154 WileyOnline.
  • Oliver D F (1979) Euthanasia of horses. Vet Rec 105, 224 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Humane Slaughter Association (2014) Farewell - Making the Right Decision. HSA, UK. pp 1-11. Website: www.hsa.org.uk (pdf download).
  • Knottenbelt D C & Merseyside Police Firearms Training Unit (1999) Firearms Law - How does it affect the Vet. In: Clinical Pathology/Therapeutics Litigation and Insurance Problems. University of Liverpool, UK. pp 173-186.
  • Jones B (1996) Equine Euthanasia in the Competition Situation. In: A Guide to the Management of Emergencies at Equine Competitions. BVA/EVJ, UK.

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