Dr Laura Hall, Research Fellow at the University of Stirling, has been awarded a prestigious animal welfare award by the NC3Rs, a leading UK organisation dedicated to replacing, refining and reducing the use of animals in research, for improving the technique of oral dosing in dogs.
Laura’s research demonstrates that a refined protocol using positive reinforcement training with food rewards, a predictable signal for dosing, and covering the dosing tube in palatable paste during training, minimises stress in the dogs compared to the standard approach, and also has the advantages of allowing researchers to dose the dogs more quickly and efficiently.
Most laboratory dogs in the UK are used for safety testing, and oral dosing is one of the most common procedures used during these tests. Typically, prior to testing of the drugs the dogs are ‘sham’ dosed in order to familiarise the animals with the gavage procedure. The assumption is that this minimises any stress the dogs may subsequently experience. However, Laura’s paper provides evidence to show that sham dosing has a negative impact on welfare. This may have implications for sham dosing in other species.
Dr Hall said: “Over 3,500 dogs are used in research and testing in the UK every year, and yet we know little about their welfare or the effect of welfare on the data obtained from their use. I am delighted that the NC3Rs has recognised the importance of this research for the welfare of laboratory housed dogs. We are now building upon our collaboration with AstraZeneca by working with organisations using dogs in the UK to develop further refinements and share best practice.”
The research, which was conducted with AstraZeneca and funded by BBSRC, is published in the Journal of Pharmacological and Toxicological Methods.