Equine End of Life Care
Equine euthanasia is a difficult topic, however, it’s a decision of love we can make for our horses. Our goal is to help support and provide dignified end of life care for your horse. With this in mind, we’ve put together helpful tips and resources for when it comes time to make the decision.
How Will You Know When the Time is Right?
We like to say that the animals themselves make this decision and it is our responsibility to listen to this. Although some euthanasia decisions are made as a result of an emergency, it is usually an elective decision based on a chronic decline in health, often associated with age. At Massie Mobile Veterinary Services, our primary concern is your animal’s overall quality of life. We have an outsider’s perspective that an owner, who sees their animal every day and may be less likely to notice gradual changes, may not have.
Therefore, it may be prudent to consider the following questions about your animal’s overall quality of care to determine if euthanasia is the best option for your animal’s wellbeing:
Can your horse move freely?
Are they unable to keep weight?
Are they suffering from chronic lameness or disease?
Are they being left behind (isolated from the group) or bullied by other animals?
Do they seem happy or are they lethargic and depressed?
If you had less than satisfactory answers to these answers, it may be time to consider euthanasia or a quality of life appointment. We cannot make the decision for you, but we are more than willing to help you discuss your concerns and options when you call or text our practice at 541-636-1191.
“Our beloved horse, Nugget, fell into an irrigation ditch and, being that she was 34 years old, did not have the strength to get herself out. After being with her for 8 hours, we called Andria and Keaton and they were there within the hour. They were very compassionate and understanding of what we were going through. They told us we had given her a wonderful life and after taking her vitals, they concurred that it was her time to go to "pet heaven". I really appreciate Andria and Keaton's hugs and kind words. These two make a great team and I highly recommend them.”
~ Vicki Brombacher
If you choose to go forward with euthanasia, we hope the following information helps you
Some owners find watching the euthanasia of their animal helps provide closure for them, while others prefer to remember their animal as they were and find watching distressing. There is no right or wrong answer on whether you should be present for the event; Massie Veterinary Services are experts at handling this sensitive task and assure that your animal’s last moments will be peaceful. We will require you or someone on your behalf to sign a consent form.
Animals grieve just like people do, it can be helpful to let the bonded horse or pony or herd see their euthanized companion and let them sniff or graze nearby until they stop showing an interest. This can stop the companion from calling for their partner.
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 your 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.
World Horse Welfare have produced a useful guide as well as an Owner’s Plan to help you prepare in advance.
What Can You Expect After the Procedure?
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 animal died unexpectedly. In some situations, insurance companies may insist on a post mortem before a mortality claim is paid out. Please be clear on exactly what your policy covers if euthanasia is required. If 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.
Please note that we do not currently offer any cremation services for large animals. However, we do recommend a large animal removal service located in Southern Oregon for extraction purposes, should you need them.
Bereavement and Support Services
Please feel free to ask us any question, no matter how trivial you think it might be, at any stage during this difficult process. We want to make sure you are as fully informed as possible about every aspect of euthanasia and feel empowered to begin your healing journey post-operation.
If you are currently struggling with a recent bereavement, then there are bereavement services which are available for help, support and guidance, including:
PETCLOUD - 1-833-PET-12341-833-PET-12341-833-PET-1234
Dove Lewis - (503) 228-7281
Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB)
Everyone deals with the loss of their horse in different ways. There is no timescale to deal with grief and these are just some of the excellent support networks available if you feel you would like more support. Sharing your grief, talking about your animal, and remembering the many wonderful times you shared may help enormously.