(Dr. Dan Thomson) Hey folks, welcome to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson. Thanks for joining me today. Today, we’re going to talk about euthanasia and necropsy. It is something that we, unfortunately, have to do on our farm and ranch to relieve pain and suffering in animals and to get a proper diagnosis. Stay tuned and more after these messages.
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(Dr. Dan) Hey folks, welcome to DocTalk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson. Thanks for joining me today. We’re going to talk about humane euthanasia necropsy. Specifically, when we talk about humane euthanasia, that’s a Latin term meaning good death. I want to start out by talking about animals at the end of their life or the relief of suffering which is something that as caregivers to animals that we don’t want to have to do but it’s our responsibility that when those animals are not going to recover, that we relieve their pain and suffering through humane euthanasia. I heard James Shear at a meeting say when it comes to euthanasia; it’s better to be a week early than to be a day late. The first thing that you have to consider on humane euthanasia is what type of technique you’re going to use and specifically, whether we’re going to use gunshot or captive bolt are two main methods of euthanasia. Regardless of which technique you use, the location in which you will provide the gunshot or the penetrative captive bolt, there’s two ways to look at this. One of them is to look at making the X between the medial canthus of the eye and the pole medial canthus of the eye and the pole and where that X crosses is where the brain is located. One of the more common mistakes is that people apply the gunshot between the eyes. That would be too low. If we’re going to make that actual, see here in this graph, that going between the eye and the pole will give you the X that will show you where the brain is. Otherwise, in a paper that has been recently published from Iowa State University, you’ll be able to see that instead of making the X, if you simply shoot them between the ears or apply the captive bolt between the ears, it’s the same location. Something that I had not seen but something that was observed by scientists at Iowa State, this is a cross-section of a brain or a head showing where the steel goes through. If you shoot too low or shoot between the eyes, then you will be missing the brain. The brain is located up here, close to where the steel is located and you can see that is where it’s located when you shoot between the eyes or apply the captive bolt between the eyes that you’ll hit sinus area and it will not render a kill shot. Some of the things that we’ve learned through the years on euthanasia studies that we can use the 22 rifle, but you want to use solid points. You can utilize a high-powered rifle but understand that you will have through and through shots and there might be some danger with nine millimeter or high powered rifles of bullets entering the front and exiting the back of the head. You need to be very, very careful understanding that, that could happen. The use of a shotgun can be effective if you want to use slugs. Those are quite effective. If you want to use a bird shot, use four shot high brass and you need to be close. When it comes to euthanasia, those are some of the things…the one thing about euthanasia that I want to make sure you don’t use, is you don’t use blunt force trauma. No sledgehammers or anything to that nature to euthanize the calf. We do not inject any substance into the vein including air and the last one is we do not use electrocution. Those are things you want to make sure you do not use on your farm. It’s not ethical and it will result in animal cruelty charges. When we come back, we’re going to talk about doing a necropsy and getting a diagnosis. You’re watching DocTalk. More after these messages.
(Dr. Dan) Hey folks welcome back to DocTalk, Dr. Dan here. I said we’re going to jump into necropsies – I lied! We’re going to finish up on euthanasia. The big thing is confirming death. Because you want to make sure that you confirm death prior to doing a necropsy. When we use captive bolt and gunshot, we want to– the first thing you can do to test for death as shown in this picture is to look for corneal reflex. You’ll just touch the outer surface of the eyeball. There should be no blinking or response there. Lastly, you can confirm death by using the stethoscope and listening for heartbeat. So, those are things that we– or the absence of a heartbeat with these. If you do use captive bolt rather than a gunshot, the one thing I always recommend is restrain the animal. I see people– I’ve seen two catastrophic injuries of people using captive bolt and pens where the animal was down, they thought the animal couldn’t move, they went to apply the captive bolt. The calf slung its head, which is quite heavy, and one of our cowboys got a compound fracture standing in the pen of the calf slinging its head when he tried to do a captive bolt. So, make sure you put a rope on the head or a halter on the head and restrain that animal for human safety because you have to get quite close when it comes to captive bolt. Moving on to necropsies. The necropsy is really like the CSI or the Coroner where we’re trying to get a diagnosis of why that animal was sick or why that animal was injured or why that animal died. My dad, when he was in practice said, it was easier for him to sell a vaccine for a few thousand dollars than it was to sell a diagnosis for a few dollars. I think that what we have done and not looked at, is when we have an abnormal death or when we have a death on our premise that could be the start of an epidemic, is getting the veterinarian out on the farm to do a proper necropsy or doing a proper necropsy ourselves which I’ve trained many many producers throughout the years on large farm operations to do their own necropsies. I think that necropsies give us an understanding of the gross pathology, which then we can take the samples, send them into the diagnostic laboratory and get back whether it’s a virology report, a bacteriology report or some other type of ology report that will tell us or give us the understanding of why the animal died. We’re going to go step-wise through a necropsy. What I’m looking for specifically on a bovine feedlot calf and explain that. When we do the necropsy, the first thing we’ll do is we’ll lay the animal with its left side down. There’s two reasons for that. The first one is, it puts the rumen on the downside and gets that out of our way. The other one is, when we’re talking about bovine respiratory disease, when we have a lesion it’s going to show up on the right side because on the right side of the carcass, or the right side of the animal, we have two bronchus to go into the lungs- the right cranial bronchus and the right caudle bronchus. The first lobe of the lung because of gravity that will show bovine respiratory disease will be that right cranial lung lobe. So, we want the right cranial lung lobe up and we want the rumen down. We’re going to start out; we got the animal laid out; if you have a veterinarian come out, you can be one step ahead of them. Have the animal with the left side down. When we come back from the messages, we’re going to go ahead and get started opening up this carcass. We’ll walk step-wise through some of the different systems and some of the things we’ll look for. You’re watching DocTalk more after these messages.
(Dr. Dan) Hey folks welcome back to DocTalk, Dr. Dan here and we’re talking about necropsies. As I said we need to put the animal on the left side, I need to back up one step. We need to have a good clinical history ready for the veterinarian. So, why did the animal– what was the clinical signs the animal was exhibiting and how was the animal treated. That’s very very important whether it’s an animal case that’s alive or whether it’s an animal case for necropsy. The other thing is, we need to make sure that we have an animal that is of adequate quality. Meaning not autolyzed, especially in the summer, we can’t have a rotten carcass; we’ll yield no results from doing the necropsy. So, we have the animal there, we have a clinical case diagnosis or definition of what we’ve done, the history. We have an animal that is proper for doing the necropsy and we have it left side down. The first thing I’m going to do is remove the plug. Which is the tongue, esophagus, trachea, heart, and lungs. And I will first start out by looking for BVD persistently infected mucosal disease, which shows up on the tongue, in the esophagus. Anywhere from the lips to the anus is where we’ll see these ulcers if we have a BVD PI that has suffered from mucosal disease. These erosions will be on the tongue, in the esophagus and abdomen, small intestine. It’s the first thing that I’ll look for and you can see from these pictures what these– what a normal nice white shiny esophagus looks like versus one that has erosion from BVD. The next thing I’ll do is I will look at the pharynx. Pharynx is where we have both the digestive and the respiratory tract meet at the back of the throat. Here we can have balling gun issues. If someone is overzealous with applying the balling gun or a speculum, we can actually have that protrude out the side of the mucosal surface of the pharynx. Be very very careful when placing these balling guns. The next one is I will open up the larynx, which is the voice box or the mooer of the cow. It should be white and shiny and not have any erosions. If we have calf diphtheria which can be caused by fusobacterium necrophorum which also causes foot rot and liver abscesses, I might see some sort of lesions. This is usually in lighter weight calves. But the real thing that I’m looking for at this point in time as I open up the trachea, is looking for Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis. Which is the pathognomonic, which is otherwise known as IBR. IBR, we don’t see it very often. The vaccines that we have are quite effective, but when we do see it is a pathognomonic lesion of this white fibronecrotic extradite or cheesy substance on the inside of this trachea, that isn’t scraped off easily by my knife. You can see that that is– if you see those lesions in that trachea, you can bet your bottom dollar that you have IBR on your farm. The next thing I’m going to do is examine the lungs. And the lungs have a lot of pathology. I’m not going to go through all of them but the first one is going to be bronchopneumonia. Okay, or BRD brought– and this will be shown in the week, is a cranial ventral presentation. Meaning towards the front of the lungs into the bottom of the lungs because of gravity. Okay. The bottom of the lungs and the front is where we’ll see the dark red areas of consolidation and these are heavy, these are thick, these are not squishy, they’re hard areas of the lung. Normal lung would be pink. It will be like grabbing a bag full of marshmallows type of feeling and spongy. You can see the difference right away. Here in this picture is the dark area is what bronchopneumonia looks like and the top area is normal lung. When we come back, we’re going to talk a little bit more about necropsies, we’ll examine more of the lung and we’ll talk about some of the other body systems.
(Dr. Dan) Hey, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here, we’re talking about doing a necropsy of the bovine animal. When we look at the lungs, the first thing we’re going to look for is bovine respiratory disease. Other things that we’ll look for, if we have over-enlarged lungs that are really wet and heavy coming out of a summertime heifer that’s been on feed for a long number of days. We’ll see what we call a typical interstitial pneumonia and these lungs are very heavy to pick up out of the rib cage. But when we look at lung pathology we’re looking to see if the lungs were normal, we’re looking to see if we have respiratory disease, whether it’s BRD or AIP or something of that nature. The heart should be heart shaped [giggles]. If the heart is apple shaped or enlarged, we may have some sort of right heart failure or some sort of congestive heart failure that can be indicative, we’ve had high altitude disease in cattle. Really, when you look at the heart you’re just looking to see if its normal shaped, if it’s enlarged or if it’s round. When we move into the other areas of the body, the liver, the liver should be dark level colored and we’re looking for sharp edges. We’ll also look to see if there’re liver abscesses that are present at that point in time but it really doesn’t talk about the pathology of why that animal was sick. I’ll also look at the kidney. The kidney at that point in time should be one color. It should be pulpy. When we open up and look at the pelvis of the kidney indicating whether or not we had some sort of endotoxemia or endotoxin death. But, for the most part we don’t see a lot of kidney disorders in feeder cattle. Then, the last place that we’ll look is we’ll find the cecum. I’ll open up the cecum; I will look for blood in the cecum, which could be indicative of coccidiosis. Then the small intestine whether if it’s baby calves with scours, we’ll look for salmonella, we may look for E.coli scours. Take sections of the gut and move those down the line. But for the most part pathology is going to occur in that respiratory tract. It’s going to occur with the heart and lungs. We’ll also look for opportunities with liver disease, with kidney disease, with the intestines. But for the most part the big thing is, is to make sure that you get your veterinarian out on the farm. Understand what the clinical signs are that will guide him or her to the point in time where they can take the proper samples to get the proper diagnosis. It’s very difficult to diagnose lameness post-death and also, it’s very difficult to diagnose central nervous system disorders. If we have that clinical history there and you said this animal was found moribund or down, which means it probably has some sort of central nervous system or has the potential to have some central nervous system disorder, we want to make sure that you will tell us that and we will remove the brain or remove the head. If there’s any time that you think that there’s something zoonotic, which meaning that, that animals could transfer to you from themselves, animal to human transmission, make sure that you wear band aids. When you do a necropsy make sure that you wear eye protection when you do necropsies. And if you’re going to go out and do a necropsy, make sure you wash your hands, make sure that you wash your clothes, do not expose children or people that are immunodeficient at that point in time to these potential diseases. Necropsy is a great tool and it’s something that I think that you need to– make sure that you get a veterinarian on your farm. Always work with your local veterinarian. You’re watching DocTalk today. I appreciate you watching us. If you’re on a mobile, what we do here you can find us on the web at www.doctalktv.com. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson, thanks for joining us today and I’ll see you down the road.
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