Animal euthanasia procedures

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​​​​​​​​A. Background & Definitions

Most experiments require the final euthanasia of animals. Euthanasia procedures must be considered carefully for three main reasons: the first is that the method has to minimize animal pain and distress; the second is that it should not interfere with the objectives of the study; and the third is that the method has to comply with implementing legislation, if existing. Also, personnel safety should be considered when performing euthanasia. An important point is not only to “name” the euthanasia method in the protocol or project, but to perform it effectively. For example, carbon dioxide euthanasia, a very common method, must be adequately performed according to international guidelines. Certain methods also commonly used, like decapitation, may need scientific justification. After euthanasia is performed, confirmation of death is also expected, which is a legal requirement in certain areas (i.e. European Union).​

​B. Guidance & Expectations

The following topics must be defined and documented:

  • Euthanasia methods: default method and any others used according to study needs and species.
  • Euthanasia conditions: e.g. separation of other animals, dedicated area
  • Methods of confirmation of death


  • To consult the veterinarian on the most appropriate methods
  • To ensure personnel performing euthanasia are competent in the method selected, and if applicable, have the necessary license/authorization
  • To evaluate potential interference between method and the study

C. Resources

Template to describe information related to animal care and use (all items covered by Section 3.4.1) - 3.4.1 Animal care and use.docx

ARRIVE guidelines 2019 for reporting animal research

Online and other available guidance:

  • AVMA Guidelines for the euthanasia of animals [1]
  • Annex IV of Directive 2010/63/EU [2]
  • NC3Rs euthanasia [3]
  • ​Chapter 4 of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, NRC 2011. [4]

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