Additional Information


Wildlife Standards

Help with Alternative Searches

Guidelines & Tips to Searching for Alternatives to the Use of Laboratory Animals

Alternative Search Websites

  1. Guidelines written by the Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC) which is a branch of the United Sates Department of Agriculture
  2. Literature Searching and Databases
  3. Animal Use Alternatives Thesaurus

Alternative Databases

  1. The Norwegian Reference Centre for Laboratory Animal Science and Alternatives- NORINA (A Norwegian Inventory of Alternatives)
  2. Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME)
  3. Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (AltWeb)
  4. Scientists Center for Animal Welfare (SCAW)
    • This web site, run by the non profit organization SCAW, is dedicated to improving the welfare of all animals, with multiple publications listed.
  5. Bibliography on Alternatives to Animal Testing (ALTBIB)
    • This web site, a consortium sponsored by the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, has an excellent data base for identifying alternatives in biomedical research.
  6. Interagency Coordinating Committee for the Evaluation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) and its supporting center, National Toxicology Program Interagency Coordinating Committee for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicologic Methods (NICEATM)
    • This federal agency is part of NIEHS and is assigned the role of developing and evaluating alternative models in toxicology testing.

Alternatives Examples

Procedure utilizing live animal: Elective neutering of dog or cat

Data bases searched: PubMed, CAB Abstracts, Agricola, NORINA, AVAR

Period covered by search: 1966-2003 (PubMed), 1993-2003 (CAB Abstracts), 1992-2003 (Agricola), 1999-2003 (NORINA), 1995-2003 (AVAR)

Date of search: August 10, 2003

KeyWords: veterinary and teaching and surgery, teaching and alternatives and surgery, teaching and (alternatives or models) and surgery and veterinary, teaching and surgery and (models or alternatives), surgery and curriculum, (canine or dog) and surgery, (feline or cat) and surgery, (canine or dog) and (spay or ovariehysterectomy), (feline or cat) and (spay or ovariehysterectomy), (canine or dog) and (castration or orchidectomy), (feline or cat) and (castration or orchidectomy)

Alternatives found that:

Replace live animals: Videotapes of spays and neuters, DASIE (Dog Abdominal Surrogate for Instructional Exercise) model, cadavers, surgical texts, canine female genital tract model

Justification for not utilizing non live animal alternatives exclusively: At the present time, video tapes, surgical texts, models, and cadavers are utilized in the surgery curriculum as initial teaching tools. These are very valuable resources, and they are required for every student prior to any work on live animals. These provide initial training in instrument manipulation, regional anatomy, and surgical approaches.  Some of the many limits on these non-live animal alternatives are that they do not provide the intricate dexterity required to handle live tissue without damaging the tissue, they do not provide an opportunity for the application of multiple techniques of hemostasis, and they do not exhibit differences in breed size, lean body mass, age related changes, or body conformation, which are factors in the ease and difficulty of performing spays and neuters.

Reduce the number of live animals required to obtain scientifically valid data: A policy is in place at the College of Veterinary Medicine detailing the minimum and maximum number of students necessary to perform a spay or castration on a dog or cat under general anesthesia. This policy, which assigns three students to each animal, was used to calculate the number of animals required for this project. The number of animals required to accomplish this exercise is further reduced by the utilization of animals from the humane society. If humane society animals were not used, we would have to solely purchase research grade animals.

Refine animal use by lessening or eliminating pain and distress: Community based service learning projects, the use of anesthetics and analgesics.

This protocol is a community based service learning project- instead of purchasing research grade animals expressly for the use of teaching, this protocol utilizes animals from the local humane societies. This provides not only a valuable service to our community, it also instills a sense of altruism and accomplishment in our students, and it increases the adoption rate of these animals by over 80%. All of our procedures are performed under inhalant general anesthesia, which provides analgesia during the procedure. We always incorporate a sedative and analgesic in our pre-procedural drug regime. This provides anxiolytic and tranquilization to the animals and the pre-procedural use of an analgesic provides analgesia both before, during, and after the surgery, which maximizes animal comfort. We also use analgesics in the hours after the surgery so that analgesia is continuous for the first 24 hours post procedurally.

Procedure requiring use of live animals: infectious disease monitoring of the research population of rodents using sentinels

Rearched and years covered: AltWeb (1990-2003), Academic Search Premier (1975-2003), EBSCO Animals (1990-2003), Medline (1966-2003)

Key Words: rodent and "infectious disease", murine and "infectious disease", rodent and "health monitoring", murine and "health monitoring", rodent and "infectious disease" and detection, murine and "infectious disease" and detection, rodent and "health surveillance", murine and "health surveillance"

Date search done:  August 29, 2003

Alternatives found that replace live animals: Non animal alternatives to determine the presence of infectious disease in rodent colonies include testing of soiled bedding, ambient air, ventilation filters, and swabbing of housing surfaces. These procedures have very low sensitivity because  most of the infectious agents of rodents are labile under normal environmental conditions. Thus these tests are not a reliable method of early detection of infectious disease within the colony.

Alternatives that refine the use of live animals: One epidemiologic method for determining the prevalence of infectious disease in a colony is to analyze the incidence of natural clinical infections in the colony within a known population. This has the limitation that the infection must be clinical in order to be recorded as having occurred (many of the infectious disease of rodents are subclinical), and it does not give an early indication of the presence of infectious disease. It is vitally important that we have early detection to allow measures to be undertaken to prevent rampant disease dissemination throughout the entire colony. Another option is to use a phylogenetically lower species as the "sentinel" species. This is not a viable alternative for this project as many of the infectious diseases of rats and mice are species specific and will not infect other species.

Alternatives that reduce the number of live animals used: If a colony is to be monitored for the presence of infectious disease without sharing soiled bedding between animals, the number of sentinels required increases to ten per 100 research animals per quarter. Thus by utilizing the bedding transfer method, we are reducing the overall number of animals required to be tested by at least one half and as much as two thirds.

Procedure utilizing live animal: study of progressive and chronic periodontal disease in the dog and cat

Databases searched and years covered by each: AVAR (1995-2003), AltWeb (1990-2003), Altbib (1992-2003), Medline (1966-2003), Agricola (1999-2003), EBSCO Animals (1990-2003), Academic Search Premiere  (1975-2003)

Key Words: periodontal disease, periodontal disease and dog/cat, periodontal disease and canine/feline, periodontal disease and model, periodontal disease and alternative, periodontal disease and animal model, dentistry and dog/cat, dentistry and canine/feline, dental and dog/cat, dental and canine/feline

Date search performed: August 25, 2003

Alternatives found that:

Replace: the in vitro alternatives found that replace the use of live animals include in cell cultures of periodontal fibroblasts, human gingival keratinocytes, and epithelium fibroblast co-cultures. Each of these has the limitation that they do not allow for a serial evaluation of the progression of periodontal disease on all aspects of the tooth: the root, the crown, the alveolar bone, the surrounding gingiva, the saliva, etc. These alternatives  only allow for a short term evaluation of the treatment effects on a cellular rather than tissue level. Cadavers are a non live animal alternative used primarily for teaching of dentistry. Cadavers have the limitations that there was no contol of the diet nor knowledge of the oral husbandry/habits; any periodontal disease present can only be evaluated at one time point; the lack of living tissues precludes an evaluation of the response of living tissue to various treatments/conditions (which is the primary goal of this study).  Other non animal alternatives for studying canine/feline dentistry included videotapes of the normal canine and feline dentition and plaster/clay models of human dentition. Neither of these address the pathologic process of periodontal disease that this study is investigating. Multiple “less sentient” murine models of dental disease were identified. These include the use of mice for studying the bacterial component of gingivitis, the hamster and rat for studying caries, and the house musk shrew for studying periodontal disease. Of these, only the house musk shrew has applicability worth investigating, though it is not a viable model for this study. The limitations of the house musk shrew are that they have continuously erupting incisors with no canines (cuspids), they have a non carnivorous diet that does not mimic that of the dog or cat, their life span is too short to evaluate the progression of the disease over many years, their enamel on the buccal tooth surface does not equate to that of the dog or cat, and they are not amenable to the canine/feline specific food treats, rawhide bones, and chew toys that will be utilized as treatment variables.

 Refinement to reduce pain and distress: The dental exam does not cause any pain during the procedure as the animals are under general anesthesia. Furthermore, any stress is ameliorated by the pre-procedural use of acepromazine, which provides sedation both before and after the exam. This experiment has undergone refinement over the years by a change in the method of inducing periodontal disease in the canine. For many years it was an accepted practice to place silk ligatures around the base of the tooth to initiate gingival damage and instigate periodontal disease. Often this procedure was augmented with an oral bacterial inoculum. Through years of study, we have developed the current model of periodontal disease which does not rely on these artificial inductions of disease: rather we are allowing the disease to develop naturally in a model with a breed predisposition to periodontal disease.

 Reduction of animal numbers: When each individual study is initiated, each study will have the minimum numbers of animals per treatment group statistically determined using the standard parameters of confidence intervals, error, power, and standard deviation. One way in which the animal numbers are reduced overall is by using these animals in long term, that is multiple year studies, such that each animal’s disease progression and individual dental characteristics can be identified and fully characterized. By examining the animals over years, the animals become their own “controls” and ‘treatment groups,” such that each animal can rotate through several different treatments which contributes to the overall power of the study by providing multiple study endpoints for each animal. So by “rotating’ animals through treatments, which increases the statistical power of the study, the total number of animals used is ultimately reduced.

Accreditation and Assurance Info

AAALAC-International Accreditation Approval Date: March 27, 2023

NIH Office for Laboratory Animal Welfare(Approval for Animal Care Program):
Assurance # A3160-01
Effective date is December 14, 2022 and expiration date is December 31, 2026

Veterinary Care and Animal Husbandry

The MSU Office of Laboratory Animal Resources (OLAR) is the service unit that provides veterinary care and animal husbandry resources for all animals required in biomedical research, teaching, and testing programs at MSU.