AAEP Issues Updated Horse Euthanasia Guidelines
The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) has updated its guidance for humane euthanasia of a horse. The chief revision to the AAEP’s Euthanasia Guidelines is the addition of the administration of lidocaine hydrochloride 2% (intrathecal, or into the spinal canal) with the horse in a surgical plane of general anesthesia as a technique deemed acceptable when performed by trained personnel.

The Euthanasia Guidelines were updated by the AAEP’s Welfare & Public Policy Advisory Council and approved by the board of directors. The revised guidelines parallel the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals.

“The guidelines not only address how to euthanize a horse but also when to euthanize, which can assist owners in making the difficult decision to say goodbye to their beloved animal,” said Alina Vale, DVM, chair of the AAEP’s Welfare & Public Policy Advisory Council. “When a veterinarian and owner objectively review the guidelines together, they can determine if a horse has a good quality of life or whether euthanasia is the most humane option.”

The choice of humane euthanasia technique should take into consideration local laws and regulations, the experience and training of the veterinarian, and the final disposition of the horse. In some jurisdictions the use of pentobarbital might be discouraged due to the potential for environmental residues.