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Equine euthanasia: Advice on making the toughest call for an elderly or infirm horse *H&H Plus*

The toughest decision is often the kindest with an elderly or infirm horse. Kieran O’Brien MRCVS offers advice on making the hardest call

Recent research found that less than one in 10 horses die of natural causes. For the remainder, a conscious and often agonising decision to end the animal’s life must be made by the owner.

A critical illness, such as incurable colic, or a major irreparable injury will carry an inevitability which eases the decision-making process. In the case of an old or infirm horse who is slowly but progressively declining, however, the call must be made in cold blood.