Administering substances to animals, for whatever reason, can have a significant impact on their welfare. If carried out incorrectly, not only can animal welfare be compromised, but the scientific goals of the study can be affected. If the administration is for a therapeutic purpose, then the incorrect administration can lead to a failure of the treatment.
Introduction to the administration of substances in rodents
Key points to note
The selection of a particular route of administration must balance a number of factors – for example, the volume and physicochemical properties of the substance, the required speed of onset, and other factors such as the degree of tissue irritation that could be caused. These topics are discussed in more detail in guidelines from LASA (1998), BVAAWF/FRAME/RSPCA/UFAW Joint Working Group on Refinement (2001) and Administration of Substances to Laboratory Animals: Routes of Administration and Factors to Consider.
If a study requires repeated injection of substances the use of Osmotic minipumps may represent a significant refinement.
If you have not carried out an injection procedure before, you should first ensure you are familiar with the relevant anatomy of the species (by examining an animal euthanased for another purpose), and also develop basic skills in handling a hypodermic syringe correctly. A separate tutorial will be available soon to demonstrate correct use of a syringe. It is usually helpful to first practice injection on an inanimate object (e.g. an orange or a specially designed simulator. Before carrying out an injection technique yourself, you should observe and assist more experienced colleagues, then practice the technique on a dead animal (euthanased for another purpose). Only then should you carry out the procedure on a live animal.
Administration of some substances could result in adverse effects on the animal so it is important you know how to recognise these. Further guidance can be found at www.nc3rs.org.uk.
Remember that in the UK both your personal licence and the relevant project licence, must authorise the procedure you are carrying out and that it is not permissible to practice procedures on living animals.
All of the animals filmed or photographed were required to undergo the particular procedure as a necessary part of various research projects being undertaken in the UK.