Horse Euthanasia Info

ArticleHow To - HealthThursday 08 April 2010
Euthanasia for Horses

Euthanasia for horses is not something that any horse owner wants to think about. If a horse becomes seriously ill or injured, horse euthanasia is an inevitable consideration that many horse owners will have to face at some point. By planning for such events in advance, unnecessary trauma and suffering could be reduced. For advice on euthanasia for horses and what you need to know, see the following.

The Decision

It is up to the owner of a horse to decide whether to put their horse to sleep or not. A vet can only give you information on the horse’s condition and his chances of survival. Once you have this advice, it is then your decision to choose what to do. If there is no hope of survival whatsoever, the vet will offer horse euthanasia. A vet can refuse to put down a horse if he feels the horse is healthy enough, or if the horse’s death is imminent anyway.

Euthanasia for Horses – Where?

The majority of horse owners will choose to have the horse euthanized at home where the horse is familiar and comfortable. Quiet grassy areas are a preferred choice. However, horses can be taken to the clinic if you do not have enough space.


Consider other horses that have a bond with this horse. Sometimes it can be visibly difficult for companion horses to deal with the death of their horse friend. It has been recommended that companions should be allowed to see the horse after horse euthanasia, and to leave them together for a while. This can help the horse recognise what has happened.

Euthanasia for Horses – Methods


Lethal Injection

A common method of horse euthanasia is the lethal injection. This is administered as a large overdose of anaesthetic drugs, which makes the horse unconscious first, and then stops the heart. Before this injection is given, the horse will be given a sedative and sometimes an intravenous catheter. This method is normally a preferred one as it is more peaceful. Afterwards the horse cannot be used for any other purpose and it will need to be cremated or incinerated.


This method uses a bullet. This will need to be booked. The horse will be sedated and then shot causing instant death. There may sometimes be some reflex limb movements afterwards. Disposal is often cheaper if the horse has been shot. Euthanasia for horses is often preferred with this method as it could be considered more dignified.

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