Recognition and Alleviation of Pain in Laboratory Animals

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Scientists rely on animals as one component of research to understand, treat, and cure diseases that plague both humans and the animals themselves. In most situations, laboratory animals need not experience pain.

The alleviation and prevention of animal pain is both an ethical and moral imperative; minimizing animal pain is also scientifically and practically beneficial. For these and many other reasons, proper care and use of laboratory animals is a priority for the scientific community.

This report, written by a committee convened by the National Research Council at the request of the New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research, is an update of the 1992 National Research Council report Recognition and Alleviation of Pain and Distress in Laboratory Animals. Since that report was published, significant scientific progress has been made in the areas of animal welfare, stress, distress, and pain. Because the concepts of pain and distress are two distinct concepts from a scientific perspective, the update was issued in two separate documents. The first, Recognition and Alleviation of Distress in Laboratory Animals, was published in March 2008.

About this Report

This report’s conclusions and recommendations are intended to help scientists, veterinarians, research administrators, institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) members, and animal care staff to understand the basis of animal pain, recognize and evaluate its presence and severity, and appreciate the means by which pain can be minimized or abolished.