It is technically "general anesthesia" but taken to an even deeper level.
Barbiturates can occasionally cause a very distressing trip "down", which as far as I'm aware is idiosyncratic and hard to predict. This may be why some animals (and people) struggle when getting barbiturates. I never use them any more for deep sedation--too many better options and I hate seeing people go down or come up crying and struggling.
I was on hand when we had to euthanize a foal. Said foal was unconscious and already on the ground. He was, essentially, brain dead. He had spinal fluid leaking from his ear. He had been kicked in the head. This foal still struggled and flopped and made noises when the euthanasia was administered. No anesthesia before hand. This was something you do not want to experience. GO WITH ANESTHESIA don't even question or think about it.
Poor foal, he might have been seizing or any other horrible thing and the timing with the euthanasia was incidental. But I still agree that sedation beforehand (assuming the horse is not in shock and the cardiac output compromised) is desirable.
Yes, but in combination with the barbiturate it causes sedation AND diminishes awareness/struggle. Given in isolation, ketamine can be a frightening thing, but in combination with other sedatives it's marvelous.
I am voting for WITH anesthesia. My last gelding I put to sleep when he was still healthy and on his feet - he was a cripple with epilepsy and there was no way he was ever going to be even remotely pasture sound again, and I didn't want him to be on stall rest for the rest of eternity and suffering and having the occasional dangerous seizure - and we didn't do anesthesia. He was a huge, sweet and kind of dopey guy, so it caught me way off guard when the needle went in and he FREAKED. He ripped away from the vet tech, bolted sideways, made it about three sideways strides before collapsing and flipping end over end, groaning and twitching until the vet made it over to give him another syringe of the euth solution. It was horrible tramatic to watch and I wouldn't want to go through it again.
If you horse's circulatory system is not already compromised (as with a colicking horse, etc.), I ALWAYS have the vet sedate the horse, wait for it to kick in well, then give the final euthanasia injection(s). Once your vet has given the euth. solution, have them grab the halter with both hands and rock your horse backward to assist them with going down, then hold the head hard with the lead rope to keep it from hitting the ground. Pick a soft spot, like an arena.
Some people actually administer anesthesia and lay the horse down prior (the way you would with a castration or field surgery), then euthanize the horse.
Bless you for making such a kind choice for your horse. I am so sorry.
And even if your horse is a colic, chances are the horse is already sedated.
I personally wouldn't be grabbing anthing as they go down. Euthanasia isn't like anethesia. They go down or up and over (without tranq.) and you don't want to be caught trying to guide something that gravity has control of. Maybe I am too racetrack, but I do know vet techs that have been quite clocked in the head by a swinging leg as the horse goes over. That is NO fun for anyone!
Edited to add:
Upon reading this thread beginning to end...... it IS Rompun that is commonly used as the pre euth sedation.
Last edited by Blinkers On; Oct. 29, 2008 at 10:36 PM.
I watched a sick horse (a completely crippled horse that hadn't moved faster than a crawl in several months) be euthanized without sedating her first. The horse freaked out, ran backwards, and flipped over before the vet was able to administer the full dose... the horse was seizing on the ground by the time the vet was able to get to her and she was flailing about so bad that he had a hard time finishing the euthanasia.
Please sedate your horse first... that was such a traumatizing experience for me... I can only imagine how much more upset I would have been if that had been my horse.
I've got an oldster who's coffin bones are rotating. He's closer to 30 than 20 so am probably looking at humanely euthanizing. Vet office quotes two different prices. One with anesthesia and one without. Wasn't thinking very clearly and didn't question. Someone want to educate me as to what is the kindest course?
The goal is to provide a painless death and the anesthesia is one step in the process. Whether we are letting a companion animal go or a horse, we always sedate, wait for it to take effect then give the barbiturate. In addition to providing comfort for the animal, anesthesia allows Doc to have a docile animal in which to complete the proceedure on re: no struggle, the needle connects on the first try and so forth.
2 years ago, when I put Mikey down, we had to lead him 500 yards from barn to grave site (NO, the hole was not dug yet). At that point, Mikey was nearly impossible to lead as he would rip the lead away and take off-He did this daily and people were getting hurt-long story. Point being that we gave him a cocktail to help us get him safely down the hill. He was dopey but still quite able to get from here to there. Imagine the same amount of drowziness as for teeth floating or suturing a wound in the barn. When the deadly Blue Juice was injected-and keep this in mind, bc I didn't know it at the time and got quite fretful-nothing happened. The dormosedan cocktail slowed the blood pressure and hence slowed the action of the euthanol. 120 ccs in and the horse was still standing, blinking, breathing. The only euths I had been involved in up until Mikey's had not been tranqued ahead of time and all had gone DOWN with a CRASH so I was ...shall we say...anxious when I saw all of the euth juice was in and the horse was still up...When he did go down, it was in slow motion, quietly as though he was curling up for a little nap in the sun.
So, long story short, go for the tranque. If it helps at all, I'll be doing the same thing on Friday morning. My dearest old campaigner will be crossing The Bridge. I guess he was missing Mikey. Good for you, too, NCSue, to help your old guy go before he is miserable. Nobody who's almost 30 needs to live with rotated coffin bones. Good luck.
I'm definitely in the "with" camp. Have had to put two horses down in the last couple of years and honestly, if it hadn't been "peaceful" for them, I don't think I'd have made it. In both instances, the horse's sedation kept everything calm and gentle. I've never even heard there was an option of NOT using a sedative.
My sympathies to you on the decision you have to make. I had to have my foundered rescue pony put down this summer. I think the first moment of pain-free peace he ever knew was when the sedative hit.
very tender subject for me (RIP, my dear old boy - October 24, 2008) and I vote for anesthesia. why would you not want it? it was so easy for such a hard thing. we went to his favorite spot in his pasture, he was sedated and went comfortably down, then the medication was administered and he left us. he was fine - I was a wreck. suggest you ask your doc for something for yourself as well. my vet was wonderful, btw, and that surely helped us both.
Sedation is absolutely mandatory. Anything else is plain and simple abusive gamble. I thought we were discussing whether or not general anesthesia was advisable or not. I'd say it is. I have euthanized few horses with just the tranq beforehand and no ketamine given. Those were already recumbent and all went smoothly. An animal that is standing I want to always be safely recumbent and unconscious before the eutha-solution is applied.
Another thing that's mandatory is a properly applied and secured IV-Katheter.
The colleagues I know who only sedate and not do general anestesia befor the final administration all do it with a Heidelberg extension thus in case the animal moves there is more flexibility and the administration can still be finished.
Ketamine and Xylazine (the latter administered first) still is the most frequently used combination for shortterm general anesthesia and in my experience works very well to prepare a smooth euthanizing. The euthanizin solution I use is a combination of several barbiturates that will cause a sudden drop of bloodpressure in both carotic arteries which instantly affects blood supply to the brain even before the heart has stopped beating. Excitations and deep terminal breathing which is the most unsightly and shocking undesirable effect of euthanasia to the attending human(s) are significantly reduced if not completely eliminated by proper premedication. Therefor to not administer any sedatives or/and anesthesia is considered malpractice here. The only cases where our pharmacology experts deem it acceptable is in small animals where intraperitoneal administration of specific solutions results in a slow onset deep anesthesia that is simply overdose and will render the animal sliding over rather softly.