Hickman, D. L. 2023. Euthanasia of neonatal rats and mice using carbon monoxide. JAALAS 62(3), 274–278.

Minimization of potential pain and distress of rodents undergoing euthanasia is a touchstone of veterinary clinical medicine. Evaluation of this issue in postweanling rodents has supported revisions to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) Guidelines on Euthanasia in 2020. However, relatively little information is available on humane aspects of anesthesia and euthanasia in neonatal mice and rats. These neonates are not reliably euthanized by exposure to commonly used inhalant anesthetic agents due to their physiologic adaptations to hypercapnic environments. Therefore, options such as prolonged inhalant anesthetic gas exposure, decapitation, or use of injectable anesthetics are recommended for neonates. All of these recommended methods have operational implications, ranging from reported job dissatisfaction by animal care staff to rigorous reporting requirements associated with the use of controlled substances. This lack of a euthanasia method that does not entail operational issues hampers the ability of veterinary professionals to provide appropriate guidance to scientists working with neonates. This study was designed to assess the effectiveness of carbon monoxide (CO) as an alternative euthanasia agent for mouse and rat pups on postnatal days (PND) 0 to 12. The study demonstrates that CO may be a potential alternative for preweanling mice and rats at PND6 or older but is not appropriate for neonates at PND5 or younger.

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