AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2020 Edition


On January 15, 2020, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) issued and posted an updated version of the Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals. The 2020 Edition is available for download here.


The PHS Policy, IV.C.1.g., requires that Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs) reviewing research animal activities determine that methods of euthanasia used will be consistent with the recommendations of the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals unless a deviation is justified for scientific reasons in writing by the investigator.


Implementation of the Updated Guidelines

OLAW expects full implementation after October 1, 2020. Previously approved projects undergoing continuing review according to PHS Policy, IV.C.5., which requires a complete review at least once every 3 years, must be reviewed using the 2020 Guidelines after October 1, 2020.

Implementation Q&A

How does OLAW expect Assured institutions to implement the new AVMA Guidelines for previously approved protocols?
After October 1, 2020, as a previously approved protocol is reviewed, the protocol's compliance with the 2020 Guidelines should be considered by the IACUC and any necessary amendments should be requested. This review may occur as part of annual review (as required by the Animal Welfare Act regulations), continuing review at least once every 3 years (as required by PHS Policy IV.C.5.), or when the IACUC is considering a significant change to an approved protocol. For many protocols there may be no impact as the methods being used are compliant with the 2020 Guidelines. 

Does OLAW consider already approved protocols that have not yet been reviewed for compliance with the 2020 Guidelines as departures from the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals or noncompliant with PHS Policy? 
As long as the IACUC has a reasonable plan and schedule for how the review of already approved protocols will occur, OLAW does not consider already approved protocols that have not yet been reviewed as departures or noncompliant. OLAW allows a phased-in review to minimize the burden on institutions. 

What should IACUCs do about existing euthanasia policies and standard operating procedures? 
OLAW expects IACUCs to update existing program-wide euthanasia policies and SOPs to be compliant with the 2020 Guidelines no later than October 1, 2020.




Call (301-496-7163) or e-mail (olaw@mail.nih.gov) OLAW for answers to your questions.


This page last updated on: Apr 1, 2022
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