Euthanasia is considered one of the most important procedures offered to animal patients. 

It is imperative everything go well, to proceed as expected, and everyone present feel safe and supported. The Companion Animal Euthanasia Training Academy (CAETA), founded in 2016, brings detailed training to veterinarians, veterinary technicians, veterinary students, and anyone wishing to learn more about all aspects of companion animal euthanasia.

Coursework topics include the history and societal impact of euthanasia, drug pharmacology, caregiver considerations, pre-euthanasia sedation protocols, euthanasia techniques, case reviews, and more. The 10-hour program consists of lecture and video formatting. We want to reduce challenging appointments and help veterinary teams find balance and harmony. Everything taught closely follows the AVMA euthanasia guidelines, with focus on achieving a stress-free, pain-free passing. The techniques and philosophy taught in this program are those commonly used in human-animal bond centered hospitals and clinics.
Testing takes place online through our online testing platform. A passing grade of 80% is required to receive the Certificate and Professional Seal of Excellence.

Course Outline:

Module 1: Overview of Companion Animal Euthanasia

Euthanasia is a very broad and diverse procedure with deep history and ethical implications. For decades, the veterinary profession has been evolving the act of taking life to match current welfare and societal demands. In this session, we explore the history of euthanasia as it pertains to all species, review our country’s euthanasia guidelines, and examine the ethics
behind it all.   Running time: 54 mins

Learning Objectives:

  1. Comprehend the broad history of animal euthanasia
  2. Understand how the methods we use today have come about
  3. Appreciate ethical nuances around this sensitive topic

Module 2: Caregiver and Pet Considerations

A large component behind CAETA’s development is to teach ways to support those who love companion animals. There are numerous caregiver considerations affecting exactly why and how we perform euthanasia. In this session, we discuss how to partner and guide caregivers and pets through such a difficult, emotional time.  Running time: 47 mins

Learning Objectives:

  1. Apply client communication techniques for increased clarity 
  2. Better assist clients preparing for the euthanasia experience
  3. Offer more empathy and support for the bereaved

Module 3: Physiology and Pharmacology

Euthanasia is a process requiring more comprehension than just knowing how to give an injection. As with any procedure, it’s important to know how it works and how we achieve a peaceful passing. In this session, we examine the physiology of death and learn just how the drugs we use work on the body.  Running time: 52 mins

Learning Objectives:

  1. Explain the stages of dying
  2. Better recognize what are normal and abnormal reactions to drugs
  3. Understand how euthanasia drugs accomplish death


Module 4: Pre-euthanasia Sedation and Anesthesia

The use of pre-euthanasia sedation or anesthesia to relax companion animals is becoming more and more common. Veterinary teams around the world are seeing the benefits of providing a more peaceful and anxiety-free experience. In this session we examine pros and cons to their use and review protocols that can be immediately implemented in practice.  
Running time: 52 mins

Learning Objectives:

  1. Determine when to reach for a sedative protocol versus an anesthetic
  2. Explaining expected physical changes to clients 
  3. Quickly modify protocols to meet the patient’s unique needs

Module 5: Euthanasia Techniques

Euthanasia requires more skill than just giving an injection. There are 5 common injection sites for use in most companion animals: IV, IC, IP, IR, IH. The goal is to reach for the best one given the situation. In this session we review these 5 injection types and have a bit of time to review inhalation of anesthetics and physical methods, should the need ever arise.  
Running time: 48 mins

Learning Objectives:

  1. Effectively administer euthanasia solution using each technique
  2. Make better decisions towards technique selection
  3. Administer inhaled anesthetics or direct physical methods if necessary

Module 6: Challenging Situations

Even the best taught, most prepared practitioner is going to come across a challenging situation from time to time. While we want everything to go perfectly smooth, truth is things must go wrong every once and a while. It’s how we handle these challenging situations that makes the difference between a failure and a beautiful experience. In this session we talk openly about unexpected
results, special circumstances, and challenges of all kinds. Running time: 49 mins  

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will learn to breathe easier knowing they are not alone.
    Everyone faces difficult cases.
  2. Troubleshoot quickly to provide a peaceful passing
  3. Better explain to clients why the challenge / issue occurred 

Module 7: Case Review

Everyone learns best through real world case review. The cases presented will be typical to daily in-clinic and mobile practice. Each one highlights unique situations within euthanasia work.  There will be questions asked of students for deeper reflection.  Running time: 63 mins

Learning Objectives:

  1. Apply what you've learned into your own cases
  2. Better understand in-home and at-home logistics
  3. Appreciate the details that go into every appointment

Modules 8-9: Euthanasia Technique Training and Supply Review

This 2-hour laboratory module will demonstrate euthanasia techniques using companion animal cadavers. Participants learn how to isolate venous pathways, utilize organ injections, learn the art of paw print making, review various supplies, and much more. This is an opportunity to learn
the anatomy again and gain invaluable technique training from the instructor.  
Running time:  46 mins (module 8) and 37 mins (module 9)

Learning Objectives:

  1. More confidently administer via the intraorgan route
  2. How to choose the best vein to work with
  3. Elements of respectful body handling and memorialization

Module 10: Euthanasia Team Support

This final session of our course will outline euthanasia-related factors affecting the health and overall well-being of the veterinary team.  We will focus on standardizing protocols for efficiency, review training procedures, and discuss use of a team training manual. Attention will also be given to help personnel cope with euthanasia-related stress.  Running time: 43 mins

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify euthanasia-related factors that affect staff positively and negatively
  2. Incorporate use of a euthanasia team training manual
  3. Recognize signs of compassion fatigue

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