Euthanasia – the good death


Euthanization of Dog

Euthanasia is an act of inducing humane death in an animal with minimal pain and distress. It is the responsibility of the veterinarian administering an euthanasia to ensure the animal is dealt with highest degree of respect, with an emphasis on making entire procedure as painless and distress free for animal as possible. Euthanasia should result in rapid loss of consciousness followed by cardiac or respiratory arrest and ultimately loss of brain function.  Type of Euthanasia Active Euthanasia refers to the physician’s deliberate act, usually to administration of lethal drugs, to end  an incurable or terminally ill patient’s life, while passive euthanasia refers to withholding or withdrawing treatment which is necessary for maintaining life. Sub-branches of active euthanasia, in relation to giving the consent are as follows

  1. Voluntary- at patient’s request
  2. Non-Voluntary -without the consent of patient
  3. Involuntary- patient is not in the position to give the consent 

Prohibited Methods of Inducing Euthanasia 

  • Electrocution
  • Hanging & Stunning 
  • Hyperthermia
  • Drowning
  • Formalin Injection
  • Neuromuscular Blocking Agents injections
  • Burning
  • Rapid Freezing
  • Chloroform 
  • Decompression
  • Air Embolism 
  • Exsanguination
  • Strychnine injection

Procedure  The methods and drugs to euthanize animals are with relevance to the availability of cost effective drugs in the field conditions in India. Availability of skilled and semi skilled manpower, the standards have been drawn for euthanasia of animals of different species. In view of the poor infrastructure and non availability of gaseous agents all over India in general, these agents have not been considered.
Pre-euthanasia drugs – Tranquilizers/Sedatives/ImmobilizersMedication with these drugs is required to facilitate humane handling of animals prior to euthanasia to reduce stress in handling of animals.      Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) recommends the following procedure for euthanising animals – 

  1. Sedate large animals using xylazine and in small animals such as dogs use combination of ketamine and xylazine. 
  2. Inject an overdose of thiopentone intravenously (90 mg/kg BW) over a period of 10 seconds. In most cases the heart will stop.
  3. If heartbeat persists, inject intravenously one of the following drugs immediately after the animal becomes unconscious (these 3 solutions must not be administered to a conscious animal) :-    
  •  Saturated Magnesium sulphate solution
  • 10% potassium chloride or iodine solution
  • Chlorhexidine-cetrimide solutio
Euthanizing Drugs 

  4. It make take few seconds to minutes for the heartbeat to cease. The veterinarian should check the heartbeat using a stethoscope and confirm the death. The vet shouldn’t leave the place until he/she is certain that the animal is dead.  After confirming the death, the carcass must be disposed carefully, because euthanizing drugs might harm the decomposers.   

 “Like all vets I hated doing this painless though it was,but to me there has always been an comfort in the knowledge that the last thing these helpless animals knew was the sound of a friendly voice and the touch of a gentle hand.”                                               


Published by TheGeekVeterinarian

Veterinarian by Profession, Blogger by Passion

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