A Paradigm For Equine Euthanasia

A horse owner develops a relationship with his or her horse that is marked by mutual trust, respect, and affection, much as would be encountered in a relationship between two people who spend several hours every day together doing something

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A horse owner develops a relationship with his or her horse that is marked by mutual trust, respect, and affection, much as would be encountered in a relationship between two people who spend several hours every day together doing something enjoyable for both. Overall, the levels of attachment shown by horse owners seem to be increasing. It is highly probable, however, that owners’ attachment levels have not really changed over the years. Instead, an increase in their outward expressions of feelings might be attributed to society’s increased awareness of the significance of the human-animal bond and to an increasing tolerance for emotional reactions to loss. In veterinary medicine, many professionals are more perceptive about what their clients are feeling and thus are more comfortable indicating to them that expressions of grief are acceptable.


Euthanasia With Owner Present


Euthanasia is being viewed more frequently by veterinary professionals and animal owners alike as both a privilege and a gift that can be lovingly bestowed on ill or injured animals.


The term “euthanasia” is derived from two Greek words–“eu” meaning good” and “thanatos” meaning death. These words qualify euthanasia as “good death.” Words such as easy, humane, painless, and loving also are associated with euthanasia. Yet, putting these positive attributes aside, euthanasia remains the purposeful act of taking a life. Therefore, euthanasia of an animal often affects the individual involved in intensely emotional ways

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Written by:

Lydia Gray, DVM, is Medical Director and Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak Equine. She was previously the executive director of the Hooved Animal Humane Society in Woodstock, IL, and an Owner Education Director for the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

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