IACUC Policy: Confirmation of Euthanasia

Policy: The IACUC has provided a set of guidance documents (Policies, Guidelines, and Informational Sheets) for use when planning animal procedures at the University of Iowa. An exception to a Policy must be described and justified in the Animal Protocol and approved by the full IACUC at a convened monthly meeting.

Purpose: This policy lists the IACUC’s requirements of confirmation of euthanasia.  

The policy requires that any animal euthanized at the University of Iowa must be subject to a confirmatory method of euthanasia.
     
Large Animal Species (i.e. animals weighing > 500 grams of body weight and all Guinea pigs)

  • A physical confirmation of euthanasia is required following a primary method of euthanasia
  • Examples include:
    • Bilateral thoracotomy
    • Sternotomy
    • Vital tissue harvest (inclusive of heart, lungs, and/or brain)

Small Animal Species (i.e. animals weighing < 500 grams of body weight)

  • Example confirmatory methods for animals > 10 days of age include:
    • Cervical dislocation
      • Not acceptable for rats > 200 grams of body weight or hamsters
    • Decapitation
    • Thoracotomy
    • Vital tissue harvest (inclusive of heart, lungs, and/or brain)
    • Continued exposure to CO2 for at least 15 minutes after respiratory arrest
    • For isoflurane euthanasia:
      • If using a vaporizer: a physical method or continued exposure to isoflurane for at least 15 minutes after respiratory arrest is acceptable
      • If using a drop jar: a physical method (cervical dislocation, decapitation, thoracotomy or vital tissue harvest) must be used for confirmation
  • Neonates < 10 days of age are more resistant to CO2; therefore, decapitation is the preferred confirmation method

Xenopus

  • A physical confirmation of euthanasia is required following a primary method of euthanasia
    • Overdose of anesthesia may be followed by:
      • Decapitation  
      • Cervical section
      • Removal of heart
    • Decapitation or cervical section must be confirmed by double pithing

Zebrafish

  • Euthanasia must be confirmed. The following are acceptable confirmations:
    • Zebrafish 8 days post fertilization (dpf) and older​
      • Observation of no opercular movements for at least 10 minutes following anesthetic overdose or chilling
      • Decapitation
    • Zebrafish 4-7 dpf
      • Observation of no opercular movements for at least 10 minutes following anesthetic overdose or chilling
      • Decapitation
    • Zebrafish fry 0-3 dpf
      • The exposure to a dilute (1-10%) sodium hypochlorite or calcium hypochlorite solution confirms euthanasia

References
"AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2013 Edition" AVMA.org., 2013.

Last Updated 6/11/14