Refinement Database

Database on Refinement of Housing, Husbandry, Care, and Use of Animals in Research

This database, created in 2000, is updated every three months with newly published scientific articles, books, and other publications related to improving or safeguarding the welfare of animals used in research.

Links to the full text for publications that appear in open access journals or are published on the AWI website are provided under the abstract.

Tips for using the database:

  • This landing page displays all of the publications in the database.
  • Use the drop-down menus to filter these publications by Animal Type and/or Topic.
  • Clicking on a parent category (e.g., Rodent) will include publications relating to all the items in that category (e.g., Chinchilla, Gerbil, Guinea pig, etc.).
  • You may also add a keyword to further narrow your search.
  • Please note that at this time, only publications dated 2010 or later (with some exceptions) can be filtered by Animal Type and Topic. Most publications older than 2010 can only be searched by keyword. 

The concept of the 3Rs (Refinement, Reduction and Replacement) has been used as a framework for improving the welfare of laboratory animals for the last half century. By establishing an animal-centric view on housing and...

Appropriate end-points are integral to the refinement of laboratory animal experiments. Our recent experience has highlighted that ambiguity around end-points is hampering their adoption in experiments that cause severe suffering to fish. In toxicology, the...

Whether animals have emotions was historically a long-lasting question but, today, nobody disputes that they do. However, how to assess them and how to guarantee animals their welfare have become important research topics in the...

Describing certain animal behaviours as 'depression-like' or 'depressive' has become common across several fields of research. These typically involve unusually low activity or unresponsiveness and/or reduced interest in pleasure (anhedonia). While the term 'depression-like' carefully...

Livestock animals are sentient beings with cognitive and emotional capacities and their brain development, similar to humans and other animal species, is affected by their surrounding environmental conditions. Current intensive production systems, through the restrictions...

In order to promote the welfare of farm animals, there is a need to be able to recognize, register and monitor their affective states. Numerous studies show that just like humans, non-human animals are able...

The present study examined whether tail and ear postures in fattening pigs (n = 228) housed in different environments could be suitable for assessing their affective state. In doing so, it investigated the appearance of...

Animals’ tail posture and motion play an important role in communication, amongst others. In domestic pigs, the debate around tail docking and tail biting has made the tail an important research topic, and tail-related behaviour...

Measuring animal stress is fundamentally important for assessing animal emotional state and welfare. Conventional methods of quantifying stress (cortisol levels, heart rate/heart rate variability) require specialist equipment and are not instantly available. Spontaneous blink rate...

Provision of rooting material as enrichment for pigs has been primarily oriented towards reducing negative affect (suffering). Information is also needed on the impact of different types of rooting materials in promoting positive affect (pleasure)...

Pet rabbit welfare is a hidden crisis: Inappropriately housed, fed, and not routinely provided healthcare—rabbits can often suffer painful conditions and shortened lifespans. This study provides novel understanding of owners’ perceptions of rabbits’ mental capabilities...

Traditional animal welfare paradigms have focused on maintaining physical health and mitigating negative impacts to wellbeing. Recently, however, the field has increasingly recognized the importance of positive welfare (i.e., mental and physical states that exceed...

The inclusion of emotional indicators in farm monitoring methods can improve welfare assessments. Studies in controlled conditions have suggested that increased tail movement is an indicator of positive emotions in pigs, while others have proposed...

Human body odors contain chemosignals that make species-specific communication possible. Interspecies communication studies were conducted on dogs and horses subjected to human chemosignals produced in happiness and fear emotional states. Dogs showed behaviors consistent with...

Care given to animals, such as grooming for horses, can be a source of well-being when carried out correctly. However, it can cause discomfort when badly perceived and lead to potentially dangerous reactions. This study...

The neurobiological response to gentle touch remains poorly understood, especially in the context of human-animal interaction. A novel approach allowed recording the pig electroencephalogram (EEG) cranially epidurally and wirelessly during positive interactions with a human...

Societal concerns about animal welfare have triggered the movement of gestating sows from individual stalls to group housing in many countries. Common methods of assessing sow welfare focus on overt physical ailments, and potentially neglect...

Attribution of emotions to horses, as well as understanding how environmental factors may influence such states, may influence owners' and caretakers' attitudes toward horse welfare. This, in turn, may influence how they manage and treat...

Animal welfare assessment has traditionally relied on measures of physical health and changes in behavior and physiology related to negative emotional states such as pain and stress. However, it is now widely accepted that good...

“Pheromonal therapy” has been promoted as a promising alternative therapy to improve the human-animal relationship and to reduce behavioral reactions to stressful stimuli. This placebo-controlled double blind study evaluated the use of a synthetic equine...

Equine assisted interventions (EAIs) include all therapeutic interventions aimed at improving human wellbeing through the involvement of horses. Due to the prominent emotional involvement traditionally characterizing their relation with humans, horses developed sophisticated communicative skills...

A key welfare problem for horses is that people commonly fail to recognise, and consequently neglect to resolve, equine behavioural signs of distress, worsening the welfare of the horse and potentially putting the safety of...

This second edition is fully revised, expanded, and comprehensively updated with the most current knowledge about the full array of mental health issues seen in animals. Written by key opinion leaders, internationally-recognized experts and specialists...

Transmission of fear and attenuation of fear within groups of farm animals remain relatively unexplored, despite the importance for human and animal safety. This paper reports the results of two separate experiments, aiming to explore...

Myxoma virus is a member of Leporipoxviridae whose tropism is tightly restricted to lagomorphs. In susceptible Oryctolagus rabbits, the virus causes a highly lethal disease known as myxomatosis, which begins as a localized infection but...

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