Assessing discomfort

The general effects of procedures or conditions on certain species of animals is usually fairly easy to predict. However, each individual animal is different with regard to its personality, behaviour, preferences, inherited characteristics and condition.

In this article

By carefully monitoring laboratory animals, you can better evaluate the negative effects on the individual animal's welfare. As a researcher, research technician or animal caretaker, pay attention to the clinical signs of reduced welfare, like deviations from normal behavioural patterns and from intake of food and water. You also register for the actual perceived discomfort in the annual registration.

If you have any doubts about the discomfort of the laboratory animals or about what to do about it, consult the designated veterinarian at the animal facility or a laboratory animal expert. Also do this when it comes to difficult decisions, for example regarding the value of your research data.

Unexpected discomfort

Even when a careful estimate is made in advance when drawing up a work protocol, unexpected discomfort may still occur. Whoever notices that an animal is experiencing unexpected discomfort must immediately contact the researcher responsible. The researcher will then inform a number of other people, depending on local procedures.