Animal welfare: Laboratory animals

Biomedical research leads to better understanding of human and animal health and disease. This research helps develop treatment and cures that improve the lives of ourselves and the animals around us. Much of the knowledge can be gained through research using isolated cells or tissues in cultures, or even modeled through computer simulations based upon data previously established from animal studies. The AVMA promotes the use of these alternatives to the use of animals whenever possible. However, when necessary, the responsible use of animals in research can provide valuable insight that advances scientific knowledge in ways that are not possible through alternative methods. Veterinarians play an important role in the process of caring for laboratory animals as well as developing alternative research methods.

Many research projects evaluate the welfare of animals in a laboratory setting. The AVMA Animal Welfare Division works zealously to stay on top of the current literature related to all aspects of animal welfare. Below are additional pages related to specific applications of animals and veterinarians in research.

Legislation and Regulation

Veterinarians Promote Animal Welfare in Research

Benefits of Research for Animals

Benefits of Research for Humans

Featured topic: Rat tickling and positive welfare

While it is natural to be concerned about reducing negative experience (such as pain) for animals, providing positive experiences is also important. In some cases positive experiences can actually reduce the impact of stressful events. For example Dr. Sylvie Cloutier found that rats that were tickled first actually exhibited less stress when they received an injection.


Literature review