PTS issues

splash30

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8 September 2009
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555
I have had the unfortunate and devestating situation of having my horse PTS this week.

I opted for the vet/drugs route rather than the hunt. This is where I now regret my decision.

Have any of you seen/experienced the drugs not working?
So he went down from the injection, then 3 'death breaths' as normal, but then he carried on breathing, rapid eye movements...
He was obviously unconscious (thank goodness)vet gave more drugs, no change more 'death breaths' then carried on breathing. Vet you could see starting to panic.

Gave more drugs but circulation had stopped, still breathing, vet advised might have to internally cut an artery to complete the process - they advised they really didnt want to do that - thank god.
Eventually as still in the same situation with my horse, the hunt person who was waiting to take him, I asked to shoot him.
I presuming this is very unusual but has anyone else had this happen?

Its a good job im not a hysterical person and when I could see it going wrong, my sensible head appears and just to sort it out, but not the dignified end I wanted for him, and tbh extremely traumatic to witness.
 

CanteringCarrot

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It is unusual, but I have heard of similar experiences.

I think it's sort of like any medical procedure/medication, it can go "wrong" in certain cases, but is usually rare.

I'm sorry for your loss and the difficulties associated with putting to sleep
 

Pearlsasinger

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I am so sorry for your loss and the unutterably awful experience that you had. I have had 2 pts by injection (both grey as it happens), I said never again, after the first one but the 2nd was an emergency with the vet there - she stood up on her back legs! Please take comfort from the fact that the horse would know nohting about it all and resolve not tolet it happenagain,if you can help it.
 

Cinnamontoast

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I’m so sorry you experienced this. We had the dog pts a couple of weeks ago and the vet talked us through it, but despite his heart stopping, chest stopped rising, he still rose up, took a massive breath. It was quite worrying and took us by surprise.

I made an end of life plan for my horse which involved the hunt, but changed my mind and decided on injection. He responds well to sedation so I imagine he’ll go if overdosed. Hopefully I won’t need to worry about it for ages.
 

SOS

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Sometimes if the body is already compromised I.e poor circulation due to age/impaction colic or heart/metabolising organs are a bit dodgy, the drug doesn’t travel round quickly enough and bind to the right receptors as readily. You also have the problem, unlike with small animal, that if a horse falls before being given the drug, there will be a pause in administrating as you can’t stay up close due to risk of crushing or being kicked. The same can also happen if they are pumped full of adrenaline (so have broken a leg when racing or eventing).

Please rest assured that as others have said, the horse would not have known anything. The PTS drug is an overdose of anaesthetic hence why you can get them go to sleep and still Have reflexes.

My vet has a firearms license so if he attends a PTS by injection has the gun ready too just incase.

I have seen small animal owners get very upset by animals not dying and the drug having to be given 3/4 times in excess to get them to die. The owner almost always says ‘Why are they fighting it?’ But it’s normally the opposite, their body is too broken to process the drug completely normally.
 

chocolategirl

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8 June 2012
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I have had the unfortunate and devestating situation of having my horse PTS this week.

I opted for the vet/drugs route rather than the hunt. This is where I now regret my decision.

Have any of you seen/experienced the drugs not working?
So he went down from the injection, then 3 'death breaths' as normal, but then he carried on breathing, rapid eye movements...
He was obviously unconscious (thank goodness)vet gave more drugs, no change more 'death breaths' then carried on breathing. Vet you could see starting to panic.

Gave more drugs but circulation had stopped, still breathing, vet advised might have to internally cut an artery to complete the process - they advised they really didnt want to do that - thank god.
Eventually as still in the same situation with my horse, the hunt person who was waiting to take him, I asked to shoot him.
I presuming this is very unusual but has anyone else had this happen?

Its a good job im not a hysterical person and when I could see it going wrong, my sensible head appears and just to sort it out, but not the dignified end I wanted for him, and tbh extremely traumatic to witness.
So sorry that this happened to you at what was already a very traumatic time🥺I’ve had at least 5 pts of my own this way, and witnessed several of my livery clients horses also done using the drugs method over the years, and apart from one, my 43 year old pony, they all went very quickly, most before they’d even fallen. My very elderly pony had extremely low blood pressure due to age I guess, so the drug did take a bit longer to go round his system, but it was still very peaceful, just longer😔 for me personally, the gun just isn’t a choice, so I hope I never find one of mine in a situation where this is my only option. Don’t feel bad OP, I’m sure your pony won’t have known anything about it, it’s just not pleasant to witness even when it all goes ‘smoothly’.
 

Fluffypiglet

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14 October 2016
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West Sussex
I'm so sorry this happened to you but thank you for sharing, it's something that scares me about the injection but as I have a horse who hates gun shots I'm a bit conflicted about his end when it comes. I'm glad you could get it resolved and I massively admire your coping skills. Whilst it must have been totally awful for you, I hope you can take some. comfort that your horse still went to sleep without any pain or suffering.
 

scruffyponies

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I can only imagine how upsetting this must have been, and I am full of admiration for your handling it calmly.
I'm sure it's very unusual, but there are enough stories like this to make me choose the knacker every time.
We lost one last year, and the pony went down instantly and completely. The important thing is that they didn't suffer, which is true in your case too.
 

HollyWoozle

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I'm really sorry for you, OP, as that is upsetting and stressful to witness. I echo the others in saying that your horse probably had no idea what was happening but I can appreciate it wasn't what you wanted for him.

I have been in attendance whilst three of ours were PTS via injection and haven't had any issues. Some took longer than others to go but it always felt quite peaceful. I am not against choosing a gun either though in principle and know that many do prefer that.

Sorry for your loss.
 

mle22

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2 July 2008
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1,637
We had a very traumatic experience with one by injection - it was extremely distressing to witness and I felt very guilty that the pony’s last couple of minutes were so awful. It was years ago now but still remains fresh in my memory.
 

paddi22

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5 December 2010
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We had one that went horrifically wrong like that. It was extremely traumatic to experience and it took me a while to get over the shock. I just felt so sorry for the pony, and that I'd let her down, even though vet and myself did our best. It made me 100% sure I'd shoot any older horses from now one. I've had others pts by injection over the years with no issues before, but for any older ones I will never use injection again.
 

milliepops

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I was present for one that went wrong but different to the OP, the horse stood up and sort of ran through a fence before falling into a hole, but at that point it was clear the horse was not conscious so although it was awful there was no suffering - for the horse, anyway, the owner was pretty distraught obviously. I was "glad" I had been there and could help because I had to find a ladder to get vet into the hole to continue administering the drugs :/

i've seen many go peacefully via injection but if I am in the position to choose when the time comes, I would prefer gun for mine.
 

Laurac13

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12 September 2015
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315
I am so sorry to read this and send you hugs I am sure the horse wasn’t aware of what was going on x
I have witnessed horses pts via injection and all were quick and peaceful
I’ve also experienced a vet shooting a horse and made a total hash of it, horse moved had it nose blown off and broke loose before being caught minutes later for the second attempt the vet and the lady holding the horse were covered in blood from head to toe 😢
I think it’s personal choice which method is used whilst also taking into consideration the horse. Sadly and thankfully very rarely both methods can go wrong 🙁
 

Errin Paddywack

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I have had 3 put down by injection, one because of colic and heavily sedated, one due to foaling complications and already unconscious and a foal with a broken leg. All my others and there have been quite a few, have been shot, either by someone from the hunt or a knacker. No problems for any of them but my preference is the gun although I wouldn't ask a vet to do it. I prefer someone who does a lot so is more experienced.
I did have a cat put down with kidney failure who took longer to go because his circulation was so poor.
 

lynz88

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4 July 2012
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119
I am so sorry to read this and send you hugs I am sure the horse wasn’t aware of what was going on x
I have witnessed horses pts via injection and all were quick and peaceful
I’ve also experienced a vet shooting a horse and made a total hash of it, horse moved had it nose blown off and broke loose before being caught minutes later for the second attempt the vet and the lady holding the horse were covered in blood from head to toe 😢
I think it’s personal choice which method is used whilst also taking into consideration the horse. Sadly and thankfully very rarely both methods can go wrong 🙁
Omg how horrific!!! I've experienced only 1 so far - horse broke its leg on the lunge (I was lunging it) after landing a buck incorrectly. Horse went into shock but we managed to get him down (and wrapped him in a cooler to try to comfort him as best we could) while we waited for the vet. Euthanized by injection and he went peacefully.
 

ILuvCowparsely

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5 April 2010
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13,208
I have had the unfortunate and devestating situation of having my horse PTS this week.

I opted for the vet/drugs route rather than the hunt. This is where I now regret my decision.

Have any of you seen/experienced the drugs not working?
So he went down from the injection, then 3 'death breaths' as normal, but then he carried on breathing, rapid eye movements...
He was obviously unconscious (thank goodness)vet gave more drugs, no change more 'death breaths' then carried on breathing. Vet you could see starting to panic.

Gave more drugs but circulation had stopped, still breathing, vet advised might have to internally cut an artery to complete the process - they advised they really didnt want to do that - thank god.
Eventually as still in the same situation with my horse, the hunt person who was waiting to take him, I asked to shoot him.
I presuming this is very unusual but has anyone else had this happen?

Its a good job im not a hysterical person and when I could see it going wrong, my sensible head appears and just to sort it out, but not the dignified end I wanted for him, and tbh extremely traumatic to witness.
I have had 4 pts by injection, all went to sleep quietly and peacefully, donkey was at RVC so left before, all the others I was there till the end as I would not have it any other way. I have also had 4 pts by injection who were livery horses. Again all went peacefully no issues. One pts by gun - which was un pleasant for all on the yard.
 

Clodagh

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I think SOS has said it but it goes wrong if their circulation has packed up. It’s horrible to see.
If you are having a ‘healthy’ (circulation) horse pts the injection should be fine.
If the horse is old, or has been in pain long enough to have gone into shock, gun is better.
Just MO but sometimes you just have to do what you can on the spot, and what is to hand fastest at that time is the right call.
 

splashgirl45

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so sorry you had to witness this, sounds like your horse would have been unaware but horrible for you. when i had the vet to do mine, he sedated first, i stayed with the horse till it stopped eating, carrots/mints i then walked away and vet used the gun. this is my preferred method as horse very unlikely to move so vet should have no problems. i used the hunt for my last one and i had a big bowl of chopped carrots for her and once everything was ready i handed the lead rope plus bowl to my YO who stayed with her. i was in her stable and heard the shot and her fall...the first horse i had put down i held him and that image of him falling was in my head for years so i like to have the last image of them standing....
 

Birker2020

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so sorry you had to witness this, sounds like your horse would have been unaware but horrible for you. when i had the vet to do mine, he sedated first, i stayed with the horse till it stopped eating, carrots/mints i then walked away and vet used the gun. this is my preferred method as horse very unlikely to move so vet should have no problems. i used the hunt for my last one and i had a big bowl of chopped carrots for her and once everything was ready i handed the lead rope plus bowl to my YO who stayed with her. i was in her stable and heard the shot and her fall...the first horse i had put down i held him and that image of him falling was in my head for years so i like to have the last image of them standing....
I had one go wrong with the gun so I would never prefer that over the injection.
 

Nari

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27 September 2005
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2,654
I once saw one go badly wrong - nothing like the OP describes - because his system wasn't circulating the drug properly. My choice now is still injection if possible, but with a gun to hand as a back up. That said I've also seen a gun go wrong when a horse moved at the very last second.
 

Cragrat

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13 August 2013
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825
My mum had an old mare PTS by injection- it was the first I'd seen, and not as smooth as I'd expected.

I helped a friend who's horse was being PTS by injection. It was a young vet, a middle aged horse, and it didn't go well. The vet was clearly panicing, running back and forwards to her car for drugs, and eventually got the gun to finish it.

My old mare had colic - the vets tried all night to help her, but we called time in the early hours. The vet said shooting was the best option, because she was so compromised by everything she'd had so far. I was very relieved - it was quick and smooth.

Iv'e held two other horses shot by the hunt - that would always be my choice now.

ETA in both cases I held the food bucket as they were shot - they both crumpled down, and I didn't find it traumatic. I was looking in to eye her from the side- it was fascinating (sorry, but it was) to see the light go out in her eye instantly - literally before she started to crumple and I could see she was gone.

BUT as has been said above, although an injection gone wrong is distressing for us, the horse is anaethatised by then.
 
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Leandy

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4 October 2018
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How horrible for you, but, like others have said. I'm sure this was a peaceful experience for the horse nonetheless, just not for onlookers.
 
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