Horse Euthanasia Service

When to make the decision

Many owners ask for guidance about how they can recognize that their horse’s welfare has deteriorated to such an extent that euthanasia is required. Not many horses die naturally, as horses live longer it is common that their condition deteriorates to a stage where it is necessary to euthanase them to prevent suffering.

The following guidelines may be of assistance – but each case does require individual assessment, your vet can help you making the choice.

Conditions that may require euthanasia include

Injuries:

  1. A complete long bone fracture above the knee or hock.
  2. Collapse of the tendons in both fore or both hind limbs.
  3. An open (compound) fracture below the knee or hock.
  4. Severe colic where surgical correction is not practical.

Old age or infirmity

  1. Gets cast frequently in box or at pasture.
  2. Requires assistance to rise.
  3. Development of sores over pressure points such as elbows or over the pelvis.
  4. Severe weight loss such as there is no fat covering.
  5. Loss of majority of teeth – making eating difficult.
  6. Severe lameness not alleviated by pain killers or appropriate treatment.
  7. Severe ongoing laminitis that is not responsive to treatment.
  8. For reasons of age, unable to interact with other horses in the group, possibly being bullied.

Methods

It is best when dealing with an old horse nearing its end to plan in advance. It is better for the welfare of the horse for it to be humanely destroyed before its situation becomes critical.

Traditionally horses have always been put down by a ‘free’ bullet from a firearm. Although this is instantaneous and highly effective many owners find the process unnecessarily distressing due to the noise and potential for bleeding afterwards. The practice generally performs euthanasia by injection giving an overdose of an anaesthetic like drug. Most owners find this a more acceptable method of humane destruction. Veterinary surgeons are not permitted to routinely carry firearms in their cars. You can contact Grey’s hill to arrange euthanasia of horses using a captive bolt if preferred. Please discuss these options with your vet.

After Euthanasia

Burying your horse at home is possible if it is a pet but must be away from water ways. Most owners now opt for a form of cremation. Arrangements can be made for collection by Grayshill, a traditional knackery or for Robbie Hunter to collect and cremate the remains. Robbie can provide a private cremation service where ashes can be returned to you to keep or scatter.

Grayshills phone number is 01236 823138 and Robbie Hunter’s 07977802683 or 07951828153. Payment is expected before or at the time for these services.

Please contact a vet or nurse if you have any questions.