Hepps Keeney, C., Harrison, T. M. 2022. Euthanasia complications in non-domestic species. Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens 3(4), 616–623.

There are very few studies describing euthanasia complications in non-domestic species. The goal of this study was to survey veterinarians to determine what complications may commonly occur during the euthanasia of non-domestic species. An online survey was sent to seven professional organization listservs containing veterinarians most likely to practice on non-domestic species. Forty-one cases of euthanasia complications were reported. The most common taxa reported were mammals, (23/41, 56%), followed by avian (8/41, 20%), reptile (7/41, 17%), and fish (3/41, 7%). Most animals were reported to have been anesthetized prior to euthanasia (28/41, 68%). The most common method of euthanasia was pentobarbital (27/41, 66%). The reported euthanasia complications included “took an excessive amount of euthanasia solution” (12/41, 29%), “heart would not stop” (9/41, 22%), “animal awoke at a later time” (4/41, 10%), “a secondary method of euthanasia was required” (4/41, 10%), and “other” (12/41, 29%). This study reports complications that can occur during the euthanasia of non-domestic species. The concept of dysthanasia, a euthanasia with an undesirable outcome, has not been previously discussed in the context of zoo, wildlife, aquarium, and exotic pet practice. Strategies to reduce dysthanasia from both animal and human perspectives are explored, including alternative euthanasia techniques, principal-based euthanasia, and mental health implications.