Yoshida, K. 2023. Comparison of low and high doses of pentobarbital or thiopental for euthanasia of isoflurane-anesthetized pigs. JAALAS 62(2), 185–188.

Barbiturate overdose is a common method for euthanizing pigs. However, barbiturates can cause tissue damage and may affect experimental results, so the minimal dose should be used. The minimal dose of barbiturate for euthanasia in pigs under isoflurane anesthesia has not yet been determined. In this study, we compared the effect of low and high doses of 2 barbiturates (pentobarbital, 30 or 60 mg/kg; thiopental, 20 and 40 mg/kg) on hemodynamic parameters and time to cardiac arrest in female pigs maintained on isoflurane. Acute decreases in blood pressure and end-tidal CO2 occurred in all pigs shortly after administration of the barbiturate. However, these changes were not different between either of the high- and low dose groups. Cardiac arrest occurred significantly faster for high dose as compared with low dose thiopental groups, but this parameter was different between the 2 pentobarbital groups. The bispectral index fell immediately after dosing, in all pigs, but no significant differences were observed in the time needed to achieve 0 for the high or low-doses of either drug. In pigs maintained on isoflurane, a low dose of barbiturates is adequate for euthanasia and may result in less tissue damage.

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