Frequency and procedure of observation of animals

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​​​​​​​A. Background & Definitions

According to modern legislation (e.g. Directive 2010/63/EU; Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals; NRC 2011), research animals are expected to be observed daily for signs of illness, injury, or abnormal behavior. The observation should be performed by personnel capable of recognize these signs, and a method to communicate any issue to the veterinarian implemented. In the presence of a critical situation, communication between veterinarian and Principal Investigator (PI) is essential. Nowadays, the authority of the veterinarian to take relieving measures (treatment, or even euthanasia) is recognized internationally. One of the main interpretation points is the implementation of humane endpoints, which are the earliest indicator in an animal experiment of (potential) pain and/or distress that, within the context of moral justification and scientific endpoints to be met, can be used to avoid or limit pain and/or distress by taking actions such as humane killing or terminating or alleviating the pain and distress. Death as an endpoint should be avoided as far as possible. Another important point to consider is the potential appearance of unexpected outcomes due to the study (e.g. effect of a testing substance), or the creation of new genetically modified strains​

​B. Guidance & Expectations

The following topics must be defined and documented:

  • Frequency and personnel involved (animal care and/or research teams) in the study for observation of animals
  • Reporting method of issues to veterinarian and Principal Investigator (e.g. phone, email…)
  • Implementation of defined humane endpoints, including those more specific to potential study outcomes
  • Response in case of unexpected outcomes​


  • To instruct personnel on the potential experimental outcomes impacting animal well-being
  • To maintain an effective communication channel with the veterinarian and animal care personnel
  • To define as best as possible the humane endpoints for each study, and make them available to all personnel involved​

C. Resources

Template to describe information related to animal care and use (all items covered by Section 3.4.1) - 3.4.1 Animal care and use.docx

ARRIVE guidelines 2019 for reporting animal research

Online and other available guidance:

  • Recognition and Alleviation of Pain in Laboratory Animals, NRC 2009. [1]
  • Humane endpoints, NC3Rs [2]
  • Humane endpoints, CCAC [3]
  • Human endpoints, overview [4]
  • Grimace scales [5]
  • ​Chapters 2, 3, 4 of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, NRC 2011. [6]
  • The Reporting of Clinical Signs in Laboratory Animals: FELASA Working Group Report [7]

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