Zoo/Exotic Pathology Service

6020 Rutland Dr #14
Carmichael, CA 95608



Frequently Asked Questions...

I need to send the entire animal for post mortem examination.

  1. Please make a note about the method of euthanasia when submitting for histologic exam. Injectable solutions can produce gross artifact lesions. Inhalation agents can look like noxious gas exposure.
  2. Before submitting a bird for necropsy, thoroughly soak the plumage in a mixture of cold water and a small amount of detergent. Dry feathers insulate the body, preventing adequate cooling and promoting tissue autolysis.
  3. Ship postmortem animals overnight and chilled, not frozen. Do not place the ice packs directly on the body, as this may freeze the tissues.
  4. Embryos, nestlings, small adult birds, fish, and amphibians are subject to rapid tissue autolysis. For best results small animals should be submitted whole in formalin.
  5. A money-saving tip with whole animal submissions in formalin: thoroughly fix the specimen overnight and then ship in a minimal amount of formalin (liquids are heavy and add extra costs to shipping charges).
  6. If submitting the entire small animal in formalin, open the body cavity and the skull to ensure adequate fixation of the tissues.

I am not sure what to sample/send from the post mortem.

  1. Always collect a sample of EVERYTHING and then ship as much as the client will allow. Hold the other tissues until the report is complete.
  2. Samples collected for histologic exam should include both the organs with gross changes and those organ systems implicated by clinical signs or laboratory test results.
  3. Cytology is an excellent way to augment your postmortem exams. Make impression smears of any lesions and all major organs prior to fixation. Label slides as to sites samples were collected. We are happy to look at them. These are charged as an additional tissue.
  4. With fish, it is important to examine for and collect external protozoans, before you euthanize the animal. Many protozoa are difficult to identify on histology preparations.