Stuart, S., Robinson, E. S. J. 2015. Reducing the stress of drug administration: implications for the 3Rs. Scientific Reports 5, 14288.
Restraint in animals is known to cause stress but is used during almost all scientific procedures in rodents, representing a major welfare and scientific issue. Administration of substances, a key part of most scientific procedures, almost always involves physical restraint of the animal. In this study, we developed a method to inject substances to rats using a non-restrained technique. We then compared the physiological, behavioral and emotional impacts of restrained versus non-restrained injection procedures. Our results highlight the negative welfare implications associated with physical restraint and demonstrate a method which can be used to avoid this. Our work shows how adopting strategies that avoid restraint can minimize a widespread source of stress in laboratory animals and improve welfare through refinement.