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The updated AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2013 Edition emphasizes the need to confirm death following non-physical methods of euthanasia (i.e., CO2, anesthetic overdose). If critical organs (i.e., brain, heart or lungs) are harvested immediately after euthanasia, this is considered acceptable in lieu of a confirmatory method. Confirmatory methods for commonly used species include the following:

Mice cervical dislocation, decapitation, thoracotomy
Rats decapitation, thoracotomy
Rabbits thoracotomy

If a confirmatory method will not be used, it is necessary to explain why, noting that animals must be observed for lack of a heartbeat and respiration and for graying of mucous membranes for at least 10 minutes to confirm death in order to comply with the Guidelines.

Please contact the Office of Animal Research Oversight if you have any questions about the updated Guidelines.