Death and Euthanasia

Death and euthanasia are tough subjects, but one that must be addressed, preferably before there is a crisis or your horse is too wasted, exhausted, or ill to continue.

The Five Freedoms for Animals: Developed by veterinary and animal welfare groups in the US, UK, Canada, and elsewhere, these are the factors owners must consider when deciding on treatment for their animals:

· Freedom from Hunger and Thirst – By having ready access to fresh water and diet to maintain health and vigor.

· Freedom from Discomfort – By providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.

· Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease – By prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.

· Freedom to Express Normal Behavior – By providing sufficient space, proper facilities, and company of the animal’s own kind.

· Freedom from Fear and Distress – By ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

In addition, the American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends that the following guidelines be considered in evaluating the need for humane euthanasia of a horse. The attending veterinarian is able to assist in making this determination, especially regarding the degree to which a horse is suffering. Guidelines are listed below to assist in making humane decisions regarding euthanasia of horses. A horse should not have to endure the following:

· Continuous or unmanageable pain from a condition that is chronic and incurable.

· A medical condition or surgical procedure that has a poor prognosis for a good quality of life.

· Continuous analgesic medication and/or box stall confinement for the relief of pain for the rest of its life.

· An unmanageable medical or behavioral condition that renders it a hazard to itself or its handlers.

There is a FB Group: HVC: Coping with the loss of a horse support group. It provides online chats, advice, virtual shoulder to cry on.

Pet loss support hotlines:

Washington State University (509- 335-5704)

University of California-Davis (530-752- 3602 or 800-565-1526)

Tufts University (508-839-5302),

Chicago Veterinary Medical Association (630-325- 1600)

Cornell University (607-253-3932)

The Delta Society (619-320-3298).

Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement ( A 501(c)3 charity. Membership includes online photo memorials, access to chat groups, grief support webinars and speaker.

Rainbows Bridge ( An online site for creating memorials for lost pets and companion animals. You can design a virtual memorial, join chat groups, purchase memorial jewelry, and participate in a weekly memorial service. A portion of fees supports no-kill animal shelters.


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