Euthanasia is a difficult subject to consider, but our aim is to provide a humane and painless death for your horse. Having any animal put down is a distressing experience, so it is a good idea to plan ahead in order to avoid rushed decisions under difficult circumstances.
When is the right time?
It may be that you are required to make a decision regarding euthanasia as a result of an emergency but with most horses it is usually an elective decision based on a combination of chronic weight loss and/or lameness, often associated with age. It is often difficult to say exactly when the right time is but as a guide, the primary concern should be your horse’s quality of life. If he/she is particularly thin or lame, has difficulty getting up and is left behind or bullied by the herd then it may be appropriate to consider euthanasia.
Where should it be done?
Most horses are euthanased at their own yard so that they are relaxed in their surroundings. Ideally a flat area of grass is a suitable site, preferably with vehicular access. If two horses are particularly closely bonded, it may be necessary to sedate the companion
How is it carried out?
There are 2 methods of euthanasia commonly used:
This is the most common method.
The horse is given an overdose of an anaesthetic type drug by intravenous injection. A sedative may be given first so that the horse does not become distressed when it starts to feel sleepy. Some vets also choose to place a catheter into the vein to ensure all the drug is administered smoothly. The horse loses consciousness after the injection and slowly collapses. His/her heart will then stop shortly after they are anaesthetised resulting in death. The horse is fully unconscious when he/she falls to the ground and is therefore unaware of their heart stopping. Occasionally horses can twitch or appear to gasp once they have been euthanased. This is normal and is the result of the muscles, including the diaphragm, relaxing. The horse is unaware of this but it can be distressing for owners if they are not aware that this can happen
This method of euthanasia results in instant death of the horse. Again a sedative may be given first. The barrel of the gun is placed on the horse’s forehead. The horse will fall down instantly and blood may pour from his/her nose/head. With this method there may also be involuntary movements of the horse’s legs and occasional gasps for a short period of time after the shot is made. Again this is normal and the horse will be completely unaware. Not all vets carry a gun and so this needs to be booked specifically. Whilst it may appear less peaceful to the owner it is sometimes a better and more dignified end for a horse (especially one that is very needle shy )
How to dispose of the carcass?
The options for disposal of the carcass are limited and depend on the method of euthanasia and the health of the horse when it died.
Cherry Tree Pet Crematorium is the company most commonly used by Milbourn Equine to provide a collection and cremation service. Cremation is costly but available regardless of the method of euthanasia/death. The ashes may be returned in a special casket if requested, either as a small amount of token ashes or as a separate individual cremation where the ashes of your horse will be returned to you in a large wooden casket for burial. It is important to think about what you will want to do with the ashes when they are returned to you as many people who have paid for ashes to be returned subsequently choose never to collect them.
Hunt kennels/disposal to the zoo
Provided the horse was not put down by lethal injection or was not suffering from a disease making it unsuitable for animal consumption, many hunts will use the carcass as food for the hounds or alternatively some equine carcasses may be taken to the zoo. Some local hunts also provide euthanasia by bullet and a sympathetic disposal service, in some cases this is a cheaper option worth considering.
You need to check with your local Trading Standards Office whether this is permitted. The European Union Regulations do not allow burial of pet horses as they consider the horse to be a food animal. At the time of writing, DEFRA does allow burial of pet horses at the discretion of the local authority. Each case is considered on an individual basis and will depend on local water courses etc. (Please refer to www.gov.uk/fallen-stock for further information).
Should I be there?
This is a commonly asked question for which there is no right or wrong answer. Rest assured that everyone concerned will want your horse’s last minutes to be peaceful. Milbourn Equine care about animals and are used to dealing with this sensitive task. Some people find watching the euthanasia of their horse provides closure for them whilst others prefer to remember their horse as they were and find observing the procedure distressing. If you are able to be calm and relaxed during the procedure, then your presence is likely to be reassuring for your horse. If you are visibly distressed however, then it may be better to ask a trusted friend to do this for you as your anxiety will be picked up by your horse. Your vet may require you or someone on your behalf to sign a consent form. In a yard of several horses it is obviously essential someone is there who knows which horse is to be put down.
Notification of the insurance company
If the horse is insured for loss of use and a claim is going to be made, the insurance company must be notified in advance. With the exception of an emergency situation, the permission of the insurers is needed otherwise the claim may be invalidated.
If the horse is destroyed on humane grounds, it must meet certain criteria to satisfy the requirements of a mortality insurance policy. The British Equine Veterinary Association guidelines state that euthanasia should be carried out if ‘the insured horse sustains an injury or manifests an illness or disease that is so severe as to warrant immediate destruction to relieve incurable and excessive pain and that no other option of treatment are available to that horse at that time’. The insurers should be notified as soon as possible. They will require a veterinary certificate confirming the identity of the horse and the reason why it was destroyed. They may also ask for a post mortem.
We will charge for our visit, euthanasia procedure and the drugs we use.
It is the horse owner’s responsibility to arrange for collection, cremation or disposal and to pay the company concerned. We routinely use and recommend Mr David Funnell, Cherry Tree Pet Crematorium, High Halden, Kent. (Tel 01233 850929).www.petcrem.com
All fees incurred in relation to disposal are payable direct to the organisation performing this at the time of collection.
In some cases we may ask if you wish for a post mortem to be carried out. Post mortems can help determine the cause of death if your horse/pony died unexpectantly. In some situations Insurance companies may insist on a post mortem before a mortality claim is paid out.
If you have any questions or require further advice please do not hesitate to speak to one of our vets when they next visit you or contact your local branch and our reception team will happily guide you through the process.
Hawkhurst – 01580 752301
Rye – 01797 222254
Ashford – 01233 500505
If you are currently struggling with a recent bereavement, then the pet bereavement service is available for help, support and guidance and is a free service to all: 0800 096 6606.
The death of a horse or pony is not a subject most people like to think about. However, it is important to consider what you will do and plan ahead so you are able to cope with any eventuality. We urge you to remember that the horse depends on you to make rational, informed decisions, often in difficult circumstances and you must ensure that the horse’s welfare is always put first. The below flowchart is a useful tool to help you make these difficult decisions.
Note: Any horse’s that are put to sleep with lethal injection must be cremated, (to avoid returning to the food chain)
Atypical Myopathy Alert
There has been a few cases of this disease reported in our area recently, particularly after the recent storms. Research suggests a toxin called hypoglycin A is the likely cause of atypical myopathy in horses. The toxin is found in the seeds of Sycamore trees and it is thought that horses succumb to the disease through ingestion of the toxin in these seeds (known as ‘helicopters’).
Clinical signs tend to be sudden onset muscle weakness and stiffness and affects grazing horses mainly in the autumn. The horse may appear to have mild colic. These signs can quickly progress to recumbency, breathing difficulties and muscle tremors, often resulting in death. The urine is often dark brown due to breakdown products from muscle damage. Quick response is crucial if you suspect your horse may be affected, call Milbourn Equine immediately. More information can be found at http://www.myopathieatypique.fr/en/
All we ask is you visit our Facebook page and click the Like button at the top. On the first of December we will randomly select a lucky winner! Existing Facebook followers are automatically entered into the competition, so you don’t need to do anything..
The winner will be contacted through Facebook on the 1st December 2013, so keep your eye open for a message from us.
The advantages of following/liking us on Facebook:
All news and promotions added to our website are all posted on our Facebook page, so if we have special offers or interesting news, you won’t miss out.
Help us reach our target of 500 likes on the Milbourn Equine Facebook Page, just click here and click ‘LIKE’
What are the Petplan Veterinary Awards?
Now in its 15th year, the Petplan Veterinary Awards are often referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of the veterinary industry. Petplan has worked closely with the veterinary profession for over 36 years and sees first hand each day the fantastic work that goes on in veterinary practices across the UK.
We recognise that keeping customers happy and pets healthy is a team effort from the receptionist and support staff right through to the vets and nurses themselves. These awards provide an opportunity for people to recognise the hard work and dedication of veterinary staff and provide a great opportunity for pet owners to say ‘thank you’.
Have you thought about treating for Encysted small redworm and Tapeworm?
Get ready to treat….
Any Small Redworm (Cyathostomes) that are picked up from pasture during the autumn have the capability of becoming dormant after they have burrowed into the horses gut wall and form a cyst where they are know as encysted small redworm. This occurs in differing amounts in different horses due to various factors including ambient temperature and the immunity of the individual horse. Once within the gut lining they develop and may emerge on mass in late winter/early spring, normally after a period of increased ambient temperature. They can cause severe weight loss, colic and be potentially fatal (a disease known as Cyathostomiasis). Treat in LATE NOV/EARLY DECEMBER
Tapeworms (Anoplocephala) don’t show any particular seasonality as to when they infect horses, but prolonged grazing causes greater risk. Tapeworms are not picked up on a faecal worm egg count, however there is a blood test that can be taken to test for the presence of tapeworm (however, in general we do not test for tapeworm, and just treat twice a year). Treat for Tapeworm in NOVEMBER/DECEMBER and 6 months later in MAY/JUNE.
We would recommend that ALL horses receive a dose of a drug called Moxidectin; found in both Equest and Equest Pramox at the end of November/early December. Both are suitable for treating encysted redworms, however the Equest Pramox is also suitable for treating Tapeworm.
If your horse is young (under 6 months old), low body condition score, pregnant or lactating, please contact your local branch of Milbourn Equine as these wormers may not be suitable to be used in your horse.
We would also recommend performing a Worm egg count on your horse prior to performing any worming, as if they have a particularly high worm egg count, then they may require pre-treating with steroids to reduce any inflammation that could be caused by mass death of a large number of worms within the gut lumen or the gut lining. This is especially important when using a larvicidal wormer such as Equest or Equest Pramox.
If you have any questions regarding worming, or if you would like to join our worming programme (£30 per horse per year for unlimited worm egg counts, and advice tailored to your specific horse and situation)
‘The Laminitis Revolution 2’
This programme is live online on Wednesday 9th October at 8.00pm
‘The Laminitis Revolution 2’ will provide a valuable insight into managing this painful and debilitating condition.
The presenters are:
· Dr Jo Ireland, Veterinary Epidemiologist at the Animal Health Trust
· David Rendle, European Specialist in Equine Internal Medicine, Liphook Equine Hospital
· Dr Teresa Hollands, RNutr, Equine Nutritionist.
Register to view The Laminitis Revolution 2 at www.bi-learn.co.uk.
This horse owner programme is a part of the national ‘Talk About Laminitis’ disease awareness initiative, which is complemented by free ACTH tests. To find out more and download the free testing vouchers, visit www.talkaboutlaminitis.co.uk
We would like to welcome Elise to the team of vets based at Ashford..
Elise Parkinson – BVSc MRCVS
Elise graduated from Massey University, New Zealand in 2010 where she rode and competed her 2 horses. She then spent 3 months volunteering with wildlife in the Peruvian Amazon before completing 18 months in mixed practice in Western Australia. Following this she commenced an equine internship in Victoria, Australia focussing on surgery and anaesthesia. She joined Milbourn Equine in July 2013 and is currently working towards her Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice. Outside of work she enjoys skiing, sports and travel and looks forward to continuing her riding once she finds a horse!
Milbourn Equine would like to welcome Holly to our nursing team, based in Ashford.
Holly was born in London but grew up in The Netherlands. She moved back to England in 2007 to take her BSc (Hons) degree in Equine Studies and Business Management, which she completed in 2010 at Writtle College, Essex. Holly then spent a year travelling, re-visiting Zimbabwe, where she worked for a black rhino-breeding project. After that Holly then went on to New Zealand and Australia. In Australia she completed a farm familiarisation programme before working in the outback mustering cattle and sheep. Holly then joined a pre-training racing yard/rehabilitation centre called Limitless Lodge helping to break in the youngsters and working the water walker. Since returning to England she has settled in Kent with her three horses, two retired ponies and a Lusitano gelding. Holly also runs a small DIY yard and in her spare time she enjoys long walks with her dog Socks.