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. 
Most studies evaluating methods of euthanasia to date have focused on the euthanasia of individual animals. However, larger chambers are commonly used to euthanize multiple cages of animals at once. This study evaluated the use...
Feelings of fear, anxiety, dyspnea and panic when inhaling carbon dioxide (CO2) are variable among humans, in part due to differences in CO2 sensitivity. Rat aversion to CO2 consistently varies between individuals; this variation in...
Sea stars in research are often lethally sampled without available methodology to render them insensible prior to sampling due to concerns over sufficient sample quality for applied molecular techniques. The objectives of this study were...
Evidence indicates that carbon dioxide (CO2) induces negative affective states (including anxiety, fear and distress) in laboratory rodents, but many countries still accept it for euthanasia. Alternative methods (e.g. inhalant anaesthetic) may represent a refinement...
The objective of this study was to describe the effect of penetrating or non-penetrating captive bolt using an occipital approach in 4–5 month old, Holstein steers weighing between 100–200 kg. Twelve calves were divided into...
Euthanasia is a valuable management tool utilized on dairies to end the suffering of sick or debilitated cows. Euthanasia should be implemented if an animal’s pain cannot be adequately alleviated and if there is a...
The effect on motor paralysis of a deviation in the stun shot placement from the ideal point on cattle skulls was monitored in 627 bovine animals (271 bulls and 356 cows) stunned with a captive...
Carbon dioxide and isoflurane are widely used for killing rats, yet may not truly achieve “euthanasia”, because they elicit aversion. The inhalant anesthetic desflurane is faster acting than isoflurane, representing a potential refinement. Using an...
This poster describes how the Animal Technologists at Envigo adapted their current practices and procedures for a new species at their laboratory: the cotton rat. The paper describes cotton rat biology and behaviour; housing; environmental...
The aim of this review is to summarize evidence regarding rat emotional experiences during carbon dioxide (CO2) exposure. The studies reviewed show that CO2 exposure is aversive to rats, and that rats respond to CO2...
Background: There has been increased concern about the suitability of CO2 as a method for euthanasia of laboratory mice and rats, including the potential discomfort, pain or distress that animals may experience prior to loss...
The optimal choice of euthanasia method for laboratory rodents depends on a number of factors, including the scientific goals of the study, the need to minimize animal pain and/or distress, applicable guidelines and laws, the...
Euthanasia is one of the most commonly performed procedures in biomedical research, involving tens of millions of animals in North America and Europe every year. The use of sodium pentobarbital, injected intraperitoneally, for killing rodents...
Guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus) have been used in research since the 19th century to collect data due to their physiological similarities to humans. Today, animals perform a vital role in experiments and concerns for laboratory...
Euthanasia in rodents is an ongoing topic of debate due to concerns regarding the aversive nature of gases with anesthetic properties such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and isoflurane. The aim of this study was to...
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is commonly used to kill rodents. However, a large body of research has now established that CO2 is aversive to them. A multidisciplinary symposium organized by the Swiss Federal Food Safety and...
The use of carbon dioxide (CO2) for stunning and killing animals is considered to compromise welfare due to air hunger, anxiety, fear, and pain. Despite decades of research, no alternatives have so far been found...
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is commonly used to kill laboratory rats. Rats find CO2 aversive and aversion varies between individuals, indicating that rats vary in CO2 sensitivity. Healthy humans experience feelings of anxiety at concentrations similar...
Exposure to high concentrations of CO2 is a common means of stunning and killing laboratory rodents. However, there is concern regarding the potential for animals to have aversive experiences, such as pain or breathlessness, prior...
Humane euthanasia of cattle under field conditions presents special challenges for veterinarians and producers. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the CASH Dispatch Kit captive-bolt system combined with improved shot...
Sodium pentobarbital is a commonly used agent for euthanizing laboratory rats, however its high pH can cause abdominal discomfort after intraperitoneal injection. Previous studies suggest that the addition of a local anaesthetic may alleviate this...
Acceptable methods for the euthanasia of cattle include overdose of an anesthetic, gunshot and captive bolt. The use of anesthetics for euthanasia is costly and complicates carcass disposal. These issues can be avoided by use...
Current recommendations for assessing animal wellbeing during euthanasia suggest that measuring neuroendocrine hormones—such as ACTH, noradrenaline, and adrenaline—is preferable to measuring corticosterone and blood glucose because of the sensitivity of neuroendocrine hormones to the acute...
This study compared behavioral and physiologic changes in Sprague–Dawley and Brown Norway rats that were euthanized by using a 30% volume displacement rate of CO2 in either their home cage or an induction chamber; rats...
Moving the slaughter process from the abattoir to the animals' familiar environment has the potential to reduce pre-mortal stressors to a minimum and contribute considerably to improved animal welfare at slaughter. On-farm stunning and killing...

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