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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 24410
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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I am to humanely trying to dispatch a guinea hen that is

Customer Question

I am to humanely trying to dispatch a guinea hen that is crippled. The process of getting her to a vet will be hugely traumatic and almost worse than her current life. I'm thinking about giving her grapes laced with tramadol, temazepam, or oxycodone. I'm afraid of the whole gassing process because it seems like too much room for error/suffering. Please(!) advise on drug and dose.
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 months ago.

You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm currently typing up my reply.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 months ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. We don't have many avian vets on this site and your question is a difficult one because there are no studies of these drugs in guinea hens and so I have to interpolate from the historical and anecdotal information available to me.

Oxycodone may not be the best choice because it works on mu opioid receptors and some bird species appear to have more kappa opioid receptors in the forebrain than mu opioid receptors, explaing why these birds don't respond to mu agonists such as oxycodone.

Temazepam is a benzodiazepine and we do find benzodiazepines useful in birds for sedation or seizure control. It's very difficult to overdose a benzodiazepine however, at least to the point of death.

Tramadol might be the best choice because although it acts as a mu-agonist it also acts in a different and poorly-understood manner. Unfortunately, there is no published LD-50 (the dose that kills 50% of test subjects) for this drug in guinea hens and so I don't know which dose would serve your purpose. In this case, of course, overdosing - giving her as many laced grapes as she would take - makes sense to me. The usual dose is up to 15 mg/lb.

If you're not adverse to cervical disarticulation, you'll find it to be the most expedient and pain-free manner in which to dispatch her. You can see how that's done in chickens here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXd82LNmwxc

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Do you believe the tramadol would be a painless/peaceful death?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 months ago.

The only information I can find concerning tramadol in birds is that it appears that up to 15 mg/lb in red-tailed hawks and Amazon parrots appears to afford these birds effective analgesia. In dogs, at least, we've seen stimulatory signs when dogs were overdosed - increased heart rate, tremors, and vocalization. Unfortunately, I have no manner in which to predict if tramadol would afford her a painless/peaceful death. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Ok. I can find all the facts ect on line, myself. I paid $26 to get an opinion because there are not any facts. In your OPINION, is there a drug that would sedate a guinea hen to the point that heart and respiration stops without causing duress?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 months ago.

If you have access to opioids, butorphanol - a kappa opioid agonist - would be my choice. It's regularly dosed at up to 2 mg/lb and a significant overdose should cause respiratory depression and bradycardia (slow heart rate).

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
a second choice?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 months ago.

Although a mu-opioid, morphine has been useful at high doses (0.5 mg/lb). At even higher doses it should cause significant respiratory depression and bradycardia.

I have to leave my computer for a few hours but I promise to reply as soon as I return if need be.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 months ago.
Hi Crystal,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Gimpy Guinea. How is everything going?

Dr. Michael Salkin