In 2021 there was a global disruption to the supply of Pentobarbital sodium, the active ingredient in the most commonly used euthanasia products for animals in Canada, which was expected to impact the existing Canadian supply in mid- to late 2021 and continue until mid-2022.

In order to manage this situation:

  • Health Canada, the Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI) and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) worked together with manufacturers, importers and distributors to help minimize the impact of the shortage and communicate information and updates broadly.
  • Veterinary practitioners were advised of the situation and asked to help manage supplies by:
    • administering only the recommended dose of pentobarbital unless more was absolutely necessary; and 
    • ordering only the amount of pentobarbital sodium euthanasia products needed to cover their immediate clinic/practice needs.
  • Canadian veterinary drug distributors developed allocation plans in order to ensure that available supply was distributed as evenly and equitably as possible.
  • The CVMA, through an expert advisory committee that included veterinary pharmacists, anesthesiologists, palliative care experts and species specialists, developed resources and guidance on products, methods and protocols that can be used as alternatives to pentobarbital sodium products for euthanasia.