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Euthanasia

gjbarord

Sepia elegans
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Many people have to make the decision to euthanize pets such as dogs and cats. Does anyone out there euthanize their cephalopods if they begin to show vast deterioration and extreme lethargy? The reasoning for both animals would be the same; euthanasia is the humane way of putting down an animal that may be "suffering".

Just throwing this out there.

Greg
 

Stevie

O. bimaculoides
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Oct 9, 2007
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I have been thinking about it all day! I read on an old thread that a bowl of ice and a little water will slow HR and the ceph will pass in about 3-5 seconds....
 

Nancy

Titanites
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Greg, could you please tell us the latest thinking on the best way to euthanize a an octopus or cuttlefish?

Thanks,
Nancy
 

corw314

Colossal Squid
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This hits home. I think it was Ink who lingered on weeks after she started deteriorating. She was one of the abnormal who laid eggs and continued to eat while guarding them and then lived weeks after the eggs disappeared. I was releaved when she finally passed as it was torture watching her aimlessly pace the tank as her body deteriorated. Had there been a humane way to end what I perceived as her suffering, I would have as I have taken all sorts of creatures to the Vet to humanely end their suffering.
 

gjbarord

Sepia elegans
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A colleague and I wrote a paper on the subject of using benzocaine as a euthanizing agent for Enteroctopus dofleini (link coming). The benzocaine is the same benzocaine found in many antibiotic creams that humans apply. The cause of death is through terminal anesthesia; the animal just goes to sleep. This method has garnered support from many people; it is the preferred method for both GPOs and cuttlefish at Moody Gardens. The results on cuttlefish were very, very rapid with the benzocaine taking a matter of minutes while the GPO (it being a cold water animal and all) took nearly 60 minutes.

Freezing is still considered humane but may take some time. You can also utilize ethanol (or other alcohols) to anesthetize the animal and then freeze it. There is some evidence to show that simply freezing the animal without sedation may be "inhumane". One of the reasons that GPOs are often frozen is that the amount of alcohol to kill the animal would be very costly so in that case the animal is sedated and then frozen. Benzocaine is fairly cheap and quite effective.

Greg
 
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What would the dosage of benzocaine be for a medium sized octo (not sure how much the average captive octopus weighs)? Also how would you go about medicating the animal? My guess would be that it would not be done in the show tank, though a fair amount of carbon may be able to take the medication out after the octopus (or cuttlefish) is gone.
 

gjbarord

Sepia elegans
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Here is the link to the journal.

http://www.colszoo.org/internal/drum_croaker/pdf/2007.pdf

I believe it is on page 8.

The dosages given in the paper can be extrapolated out for smaller octopuses. Species such as Octopus bimaculoides, and the like, may only require 25% of the concentration needed to euthanize GPOs, as the water temperature is greater which will induce a quicker uptake time. Smaller octopuses are many times euthanized via ethanol because the volume needed is much less than the larger octopuses (due to the large containers that these larger octopuses occupy). Please note the descriptions of the octopuses behavior during the trials. While it may appear that the animal is "suffering" its behavior is actually normal for this procedure. Many marine animals, especially fishes, will go through an excitement phase before they expire and while this may appear inhumane, it is merely a normal reaction occurring. Because benzocaine works as an anesthetic agent you can (from my observations) rest assure that the specimen is not in pain during the procedure.

The two GPOs used were both in senescence and were euthanized in a large garbage can off exhibit. Sepia pharaonis and Sepia officinalis were euthanized in a 4 L container off exhibit. These combined results will be published fairly soon as well as results for another cephalopod species (knock on wood).

The weight of the specimen is irrelevant when determining dosages for baths. Treatments via baths are dependent upon water volume while IV injections, and the like, are dependent upon weight. You are dosing the water with the benzocaine, or what have you, not the animal. Factors that may cloud this are temperature and pH but concentrations between different sized animals (given temperature and pH are the same) should be equal.

Greg
 

DWhatley

Kraken
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Greg,
This may be way off base and have no meaning but I was so afraid that Trapper (female mercatoris) would decay while alive and I know I couldn't euthanize (I had a beloved seahorse that I should have but just could not) that I tried giving her a small amount of antibiotic for two weeks while she was brooding. She became very weak after surviving the hatching 11 weeks but her skin never developed sores (she lost the ability to color and her arms seemed to shrink in thickness) and she stayed moderately active. Even her final walk during daylight lasted over a week. What I don't know is if the antibiotics made her final time less painful or if they did anything at all so I guess I am asking if you know of other similar attempts and the outcome. I have a brooding female now that is difficult to feed and I have not tried gut loading what I can get to her but, after reading about Alexandria's end, am considering an attempt.
 

gjbarord

Sepia elegans
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Pain. I have very strong feelings of actual pain felt in animals (humans included), let alone invertebrates but I really do not want to open up that can of worms, yet...

When senescent symptoms set in and are visually seen, it can be deduced that the internal infection is severe. When internal organs begin to deteriorate bacteria accumulates. Very soon the bacteria will reach the circulatory system and become systemic. This condition is very difficult to treat in any animal and is often times fatal. Antibiotics may give the immune system enough strength to add some time to its life but I do not see how antibiotics can lessen any "pain" felt on the animal. If pain is a consideration, then look at it from this viewpoint; antibiotics may lengthen life span but may lengthen this life span at a consequence to the animals' pain by prolonging its life in this condition.

Systemic infections can only be cleared up if the animal has the strength to heal itself after the antibiotics have taken control. In an animal is deteriorating from the inside-out, the antibiotics may clear up the infection momentarily but the internal anatomy will still be prone to future bacterial infections and the cycle will continue.

I do not recommend antibiotics of any kind when all the facts point to senescence.

Greg
 

DWhatley

Kraken
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Greg,
Your points and emphathy are well noted but ... If the antibiotics given before deterioration started taking its toll and allowed her to die by just going to sleep, I would want to continue with the practice. I just don't KNOW that this was the effect. Visually, she was still in good condition (with the exceptions noted but fraility is not necessarily extreme pain) and she was moving on her own, not flopping around in the tank. The extended life is not what I am hoping to achieve but wonder (if there is any relationship at all) if it is not a sign that it provided a better end.
 

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