Revisions to euthanasia, veterinary dental guidelines released


AVMA, AAHA issue updates to practice resources for veterinarians.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recently published the 2013 edition of its AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals. A group of more than 60 experts, including veterinarians, animal scientists and behaviorists, deliberated for more than three years to create the new guidelines.

Since their inception 50 years ago, the AVMA guidelines have come to be regarded as the primary euthanasia resource—and, at times, a legal standard—for veterinary practitioners. The AVMA Panel on Euthanasia is required to conduct a comprehensive review of the guidelines and update the report at least every 10 years, although revisions can be made on an as-needed basis in light of new developments in research and practical experience.

"As we learn more about animals—their physiology and psychology—it's important to update and sometimes change our approaches to euthanasia to ensure we continue to protect their welfare as best as possible," stated Steven Leary, DVM, DACLAM, chair of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia, in a prepared statement.

Dr. Leary went on to say that the panel of experts conducting the review and revision of the guidelines was the most professionally diverse one ever assembled, and as a result, the latest update offers much more depth and breadth of expertise on the topic of euthanasia.

The following items are new additions to the 2013 guidelines:

  • Euthanasia methods for invertebrates and other lower-order species

  • Advice on humane handling of animals before and during euthanasia

  • Information on collecting animals for scientific investigations, handling injured wild animals and removing animals that cause property damage or threaten human safety

  • Additional information about confirmation of death and disposal of animal remains

  • Flowcharts, illustrations, tables and appendices that clarify the recommendations and provide information in an easy-to-read format.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) also recently updated its Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. This recent release provides guidelines for preventive oral healthcare, client communication, patient evaluation, dental cleaning and treatment. In addition, the new guidelines focus on what materials and equipment are necessary to perform a medically appropriate procedure.

"Proper dental care is a vital part of good pet health that requires a committed effort by both veterinarians and clients," said Kate Spencer, AAHA communications manager, in an e-mail to dvm360. "Because veterinary dentistry is rapidly progressing, we have revised the AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats to ensure that veterinary professionals can keep up with changes in the field. We hope that veterinary professionals will use these guidelines so that they can continue providing quality preventive oral healthcare and client communication."

Some key highlights in the new guidelines include:

  • Recommendations on hospital facility requirements and the materials, instruments and equipment needed for performing dental procedures

  • Detailed information on conducting a patient assessment and examination

  • Advice on communicating with and educating clients about their pets' dental care needs

  • Recommendations for planning a dental procedure, from anesthesia to postoperative management

  • Guidance for follow-up care, including home oral hygiene and nutrition, as well as postoperative communication and follow-up evaluation.

For more information on the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals, visit

. For more information on the AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats, visit


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