Euthanasia - Approved Methods

Agent Classification Mode of action Rapidity Ease of Performance Safety for Personnel Species Suitability Efficacy & comments
Barbiturates Hypoxia attributable to depression of vital centers Direct depression of cerebral cortex, subcortical structures and vital centers; direct depression of heart muscle Rapid onset of anesthesia Animal must be restrained; personnel must be skilled to perform IV injection Safe except human abuse potential; DEA-controlled substance Most species Highly effective when appropriately administered; acceptable IV and IP in small animals
Potassium chloride (intracardially or intravenously in conjunction with general anesthesia only) Hypoxia Direct depression os cerebral cortex, subcortical structures, and vital centers secondary to cardiac arrest Rapid Requires training and specialized equipment for remote injection anesthesia, and ability to give IV injections of potassium chloride Anesthetics may be hazardous with accidental human exposure Most species Highly effective, some clonic muscle spasms may be observed
Inhalant anesthetics Hypoxia attributable to depression of vital centers Direct depression of cerebral cortex, subcortical structures and vital centers Moderately rapid onset of anesthesia, some excitation may occur during induction Easily performed with closed container; can be administered to large animals by means of a mask Must be properly scavenged or vented to minimize exposure to personnel Some amphibians, birds, cats, dogs, fur bearing animals, rabbits, some reptiles, rodents and other small mammals, zoo animals, fish, free ranging wildlife Highly effective provided that subject is sufficiently exposed, Not ether
Carbon dioxide (bottled gas only) Hypoxia attributable to depression of vital centers Direct depression of cerebral cortex, subcortical structures and vital centers; direct depression of heart muscle Moderately rapid Used in closed container Minimal hazard Small laboratory animals, birds, cats, small dogs, mink, zoo animals, amphibians, fish, some reptiles, swine Effective, but time required may be prolonged in immature and neonatal animals
Carbon monoxide (bottled gas only) Hypoxia Combines with hemoglobin, preventing its combination with oxygen Moderate onset time; but insidious so animal is unaware of onset Requires appropriately operated equipment Extremely hazardous, toxic, and difficult to detect Most small species including dogs, cats, rodents, mink chinchillas, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and zoo animals, rabbits Effective; acceptable only when equipment is properly designed and operated
Microwave irradiation Brain enzyme inactivation Direct inactivation of brain enzymes by rapid heating of brain Very rapid Requires training and highly specialized equipment Safe Mice and rats Highly effective for special needs
Tricaine (methane sulfonate) TMS, MS 222) Hypoxia attributable to depression of vital centers Depression of CNS Very rapid, depending on dose Easily used Safe Fish and amphibians Effective but expensive
Benzocaine hydrochloride Hypoxia attributable to depression of vital centers Depression of CNS Very rapid, depending on dose Easily used Safe Fish, amphibians Effective but expensive
2-Phenoxyethanol Hypoxia attributable to depression of vital centers Depression of CNS Very rapid, depending on dose Easily used Safe Fish Effective but expensive
Penetrating captive bolt Physical damage to brain Direct concussion of brain tissue Rapid Requires skill, adequate restraint, and proper placement of captive bolt Safe Horses, ruminants, swine Instant loss of consciousness but motor activity may continue
From 2000 Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia.

  






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