Euthanasia protocol
Guidelines have been established to handle client communication along the euthanasia
process, location of the procedure, disposition of remains, and level of client involvement in the
procedure.
Oregon State University objects euthanasia of healthy, adoptable pets. However, the option of
euthanasia may be appropriate for animals with advanced disease, diseases carrying poor
prognosis, and animals suffering great pain or with extreme behavioral problems.
A clinician may refuse to euthanize an animal in cases where there is a conflict of conscience or
disagreement with the reason for euthanasia or about the decision making process that lead to
the request of euthanasia by the owner. The Hospital Director, or if he/she is not available, the
Section Head, should be informed immediately whenever primary clinician refuses to euthanize
an animal. The Hospital Director or the Section Head will promptly determine the next course
of action after reviewing the case.
Location and timing
The procedure of euthanasia will be performed in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital only. In the
case of rural veterinary practice, when an animal needs to be humanly euthanized, the
procedure can be performed on site, upon approval of the attending clinician.
A sign should be placed outside the room where the procedure is about to take place, stating
that euthanasia is being performed and the presence of a grieving owner.
Is the clinician’s responsibility to make sure that the animal and the owner are comfortable
during the procedure.
Ideally the euthanasia should take place prior to receiving patients (early morning) or at the end
of the day. However, we do recognize that the patient condition and owner preference may
determine the euthanasia timing.
Client communication
Veterinarians should be the people addressing the discussion of euthanasia with the owner.
A decision to euthanize an animal must be approved by the legal owner who should be 18 years
of age or older.
All possible treatment and palliative options should be introduced to the owner prior to
discussion of euthanasia. Training of the animal, options of adoption, and or medications
should be offered for owners considering euthanasia due to behavioral problems of their pets.
OSU AAHA Standard PC59
It should be emphasized that euthanasia is the last resort and is performed out of humanely
reasons.
The owners should be allowed reasonable time to make their decision. A clinician must be
present to witness the decision by the owner. Once the owner is ready to proceed with
euthanasia time can be allowed for spending time with the animal, if the clients desires. The
procedure should not be delayed more than the necessary time for technical preparations (up
to 20 minutes).
Owners must complete and sign the euthanasia consent form prior to the procedure. The
consent form should be sign by the attending clinician prior to euthanasia. In cases where
permission is given by phone the owner must express their approval to attending clinician and
an additional witness. The witness must identify him or herself and ask the owner for their
identity. Following identification of all individuals involved, approval of euthanasia should be
given over the phone by the owner.
Prior to euthanasia, inform the peers and students on site about the intent of performing
euthanasia and the location where it is going to take place. Team members should behave
appropriately around the area where the euthanasia takes place. Laughing, shouting or loud
conversations, should be avoided around the area were euthanasia takes place.
Prior to the actual procedure an explanation about the different drugs that are going to be used
should be provided to the owners. If the owner chooses to be present in the procedure, the
procedure and anticipated reactions should be explained in detail.
Owner can be informed about different resources for grief counseling.
The referring veterinarian must be informed by phone, as soon as possible about the
euthanasia of the patient.
We encourage the attending clinician to send sympathy cards to the owner following the
euthanasia
Invoicing
The legal owner of the animal is responsible for the cost of drugs, services and disposal or
cremation of the remains.
Invoicing of the owner should ideally be done prior to euthanasia, however later billing by mail
or phone can be followed as well.
OSU AAHA Standard PC59
Procedure
The use of sedatives prior to euthanasia is strongly encouraged. All animals should have an
intravenous catheter placed. Avoid stressing the animal or excessive straining of the animal
while placing the catheter.
Injection of euthanasia solution should follow the sedation according to the manufacture
recommended dose.
Necropsy and remains handling
Discussion of necropsy options and disposition of remains should take place prior to euthanasia
and be documented on the euthanasia consent form. A no charge necropsy can be performed
for teaching purposes at the VTH at the clinician’s discretion, if approved by the owner. This
request must be documented on the consent form. Cremation is performed at a proxy site.
There are different options for cremation upon the owner’s request: individual cremation with
or without return of remains, mass cremation, or mass disposal.
Following the euthanasia remains will be placed in a cadaver bag and identified with the animal
name, client name, patient number, date and time of disposal and type of disposal.
In cases with a potential zoonotic disease, the pet remains should be handled with the required
care and labeled appropriately (on the carcass red labeled with a sign: zoonotic disease caution
and another sign on the external part of the bag. )
Documentation
A visit summary with description of the euthanasia should be written and signed by the
attending clinician. A copy of the discharge should not be sent to the owner.
A stamp should be placed on the medical record stating that the animal is deceased and the
referring veterinarian was informed about the euthanasia.
The veterinary teaching hospital reception should update the patient’s file in the computer with
the date of euthanasia.
OSU AAHA Standard PC59
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PC59 Euthanasia protocol