Euthanasia Guidelines

Find standard acceptable animal euthanasia methods based on guidelines from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).


Mice, rats, gerbils, hamsters, or other small rodents

Carbon dioxide (CO2)
Inhalation to effect. Flow rate must displace no more than 30% of the chamber volume/minute. Prolonged exposure may be required for neonates and fetuses.

Sodium pentobarbital
≥100 mg/kg intraperitoneal (IP) or intravenous (IV). This is a controlled substance (DEA Schedule II). Dosing is the same for the commercial product Fatal-Plus®.

Euthanasia solution
≥86 mg/kg IP or IV. Multiple pharmaceutical grade products available. Contains sodium pentobarbital 390 mg/ml + sodium phenytoin 50 mg/ml (dosing based on barbiturate concentration). This is a controlled substance (DEA Schedule III).

Cervical dislocation
Use in conscious small rodents requires demonstrated technical skill (or must be performed only on unconscious/anesthetized small rodents). Use in rats >200 g to be performed under anesthesia only.

Decapitation
Use in conscious small rodents requires demonstrated technical skill (or must be performed only on unconscious/anesthetized small rodents). Use in rats >200 g to be performed under anesthesia only.

Isoflurane overdose
Inhalation to effect. May require prolonged exposure to ensure death.

Injectable anesthetic overdose
Administration varies (IP or IV). Consult a Research Animal Resources (RAR) veterinarian regarding specific agents.

Anesthesia followed by potassium chloride
75-150 mg/kg KCl IV. Administer rapidly to effect.

Anesthesia followed by physical method
Cervical dislocation, decapitation, exsanguination, bilateral pneumothorax.


Guinea pigs

Carbon dioxide (CO2)
Inhalation to effect. Flow rate must displace no more than 30% of the chamber volume/minute.

Sodium pentobarbital
≥100 mg/kg IP or IV. This is a controlled substance (DEA Schedule II). Dosing is the same for the commercial product Fatal-Plus®.

Euthanasia solution
≥86 mg/kg IP or IV. Multiple pharmaceutical grade products available. Contains sodium pentobarbital 390 mg/ml + sodium phenytoin 50 mg/ml (dosing based on barbiturate concentration). This is a controlled substance (DEA Schedule III).

Isoflurane overdose
Inhalation to effect. May require prolonged exposure to ensure death.

Injectable anesthetic overdose
Varies (IP or IV). Consult an RAR veterinarian regarding specific agents.

Anesthesia followed by potassium chloride
75-150 mg/kg KCl IV. Administered rapidly to effect

Anesthesia followed by physical method
Cervical dislocation, decapitation, exsanguination, bilateral pneumothorax.


Rabbits

Sodium pentobarbital
≥100 mg/kg IP or IV. This is a controlled substance (DEA Schedule II). Dosing is the same for the commercial product Fatal-Plus®.

Euthanasia solution
≥86 mg/kg IP or IV. Multiple pharmaceutical grade products available. Contains sodium pentobarbital 390 mg/ml + sodium phenytoin 50 mg/ml (dosing based on barbiturate concentration). This is a controlled substance (DEA Schedule III).

Injectable anesthetic overdose
Administration varies (IP or IV). Consult an RAR veterinarian regarding specific agents. 

Anesthesia followed by potassium chloride
75-150 mg/kg KCl IV. Administered rapidly to effect.

Anesthesia followed by physical method
Cervical dislocation, decapitation, exsanguination, bilateral pneumothorax.


Cats, dogs, or non-human primates

Sodium pentobarbital
≥100 mg/kg IP or IV. This is a controlled substance (DEA Schedule II). Dosing is the same for the commercial product Fatal-Plus®.

Euthanasia solution
≥86 mg/kg IP or IV. Multiple pharmaceutical grade products available. Contains sodium pentobarbital 390 mg/ml + sodium phenytoin 50 mg/ml (dosing based on barbiturate concentration). This is a controlled substance (DEA Schedule III).

Injectable anesthetic overdose
Administration varies (IP or IV). Consult an RAR veterinarian regarding specific agents.

Anesthesia followed by potassium chloride
75-150 mg/kg KCl IV. Administer rapidly to effect.


Livestock (cattle, goats, horses, sheep, or swine)

Sodium pentobarbital
≥100 mg/kg IP or IV. This is a controlled substance (DEA Schedule II). Dosing is the same for the commercial product Fatal-Plus®.

Euthanasia solution
≥86 mg/kg IP or IV. Multiple pharmaceutical grade products available. Contains sodium pentobarbital 390 mg/ml + sodium phenytoin 50 mg/ml (dosing based on barbiturate concentration). This is a controlled substance (DEA Schedule III).


Amphibians or fish

Sodium pentobarbital
≥100 mg/kg intracoelomic (ICL) or IV. This is a controlled substance (DEA Schedule II). Dosing is the same for the commercial product Fatal-Plus®. Injectable agents can be administered via the dorsal lymph sac in Xenopus and some other amphibian species.

Euthanasia solution
≥86 mg/kg ICL or IV. Multiple pharmaceutical grade products available. Contains sodium pentobarbital 390 mg/ml + sodium phenytoin 50 mg/ml (dosing based on barbiturate concentration). This is a controlled substance (DEA Schedule III).

Benzocaine hydrochloride
Immersion; 250 mg/liter water bath.

Tricaine methanesulfonate (MS-222)
Immersion; 3 g/liter water bath (Buffered to pH 7.0-7.5 with sodium bicarbonate).

2-Phenoxyethanol
Immersion; 0.3-0.4 mg/liter water bath.

Carbon dioxide (CO2)
Immersion; water bath saturated with CO2.

Rapid chilling (ice/water bath) to 2°-4°C
Only for zebrafish or small tropical/subtropical fish smaller than 3.8 cm in length.


Birds

Carbon dioxide (CO2)
Inhalation to effect. 

Sodium pentobarbital
≥100 mg/kg IP or IV. This is a controlled substance (DEA Schedule II). Dosing is the same for the commercial product Fatal-Plus®.

Euthanasia solution
≥86 mg/kg IP or IV. Multiple pharmaceutical grade products available. Contains sodium pentobarbital 390 mg/ml + sodium phenytoin 50 mg/ml (dosing based on barbiturate concentration). This is a controlled substance (DEA Schedule III).


Reptiles

Sodium pentobarbital
≥100 mg/kg IP or IV. This is a controlled substance (DEA Schedule II). Dosing is the same for the commercial product Fatal-Plus®.

Euthanasia solution
≥86 mg/kg IP or IV. Multiple pharmaceutical grade products available. Contains sodium pentobarbital 390 mg/ml + sodium phenytoin 50 mg/ml (dosing based on barbiturate concentration). This is a controlled substance (DEA Schedule III).


Abbreviations

IV = Intravenous
IP = Intraperitoneal
ICL = Intracoelomic

Also see: Guidelines for euthanasia of animals used in research, teaching and display