• Photo by Kelsey Pecsek Hruska.

AAEP Issues Updated Euthanasia Guidelines

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) has updated its guidance for humane euthanasia of a horse. The chief revision to the AAEP’s Euthanasia Guidelines is the addition of the administration of lidocaine hydrochloride 2% (intrathecal) with the horse in a surgical plane of general anesthesia as a technique deemed acceptable when performed by trained personnel.  

The Euthanasia Guidelines, available at, were updated by the AAEP’s Welfare & Public Policy Advisory Council and approved by the board of directors. The revised guidelines parallel the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals. 

“The guidelines not only address how to euthanize a horse, but also when to euthanize, which can assist owners in making the difficult decision to say good-bye to their beloved animal,” said Alina Vale, DVM, chair of the AAEP’s Welfare & Public Policy Advisory Council. “When a veterinarian and owner objectively review the guidelines together, they can determine if a horse has a good quality of life, or whether euthanasia is the most humane option.”

The choice of humane euthanasia technique should take into consideration local laws and regulations, the experience and training of the veterinarian and the final disposition of the horse. In some jurisdictions, the use of pentobarbital may be discouraged due to the potential for environmental residues.  

About AAEP 

The American Association of Equine Practitioners, headquartered in Lexington, Ky., was founded in 1954 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the horse. Currently, AAEP reaches more than 5 million horse owners through its over 9,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.