Anaesthesia and analgesia of laboratory animals

Analgesia is obligatory after surgical operation, unless it is agreed and stated otherwise in an animal licence. Analgesia must be appropriate for each experiment, but the terms of animal licence are the minimum. 

Sterile equipments and aseptic working techniques are quite often adequate in rodents to prevent wound infections, and antibiotics are not usually needed. If problems emerge, recommendations for antibiotic treatment can be found e.g  by Flecknell 1996.

In normal situation, animals should start to eat, drink, urinate and defecate within few days after operation. If this does not happen, animals must be checked more carefully and give additional treatment  if necessary.

Decreased drinking is quite normal after operation. Water consuption in most species is 40 - 80 ml/kg per day. If animal vomits or has diarrhea, the need for fluids increases.  With conscious animals, the best way to get enough fluids is drinking: ensure that animals have access to water or they can eat wet feed.  If animal is in pain, it is not necessarily able to stretch itself  to drink from a water bottle. If animal is not able or it does not want to drink, fluids can be given with sc or ip injections. Fluid can be e.g.  fysiological saline (0.9 %) or  dextrose-saline (4 % dextrose, 0.18 % saline). 

   Subcutaneously (ml)  Intraperitoneally (ml)
 Mouse (30 g)  1-2  2
 Rat (200 g)  5  5
 Guinea-pig (1 kg)  10-20  20
 Rabbit (3 kg)  30-50  50

The welfare of animals must be followed during the recovery. Indications of welfare problems include general appearance (coat condition, posture and willingness to move), clinical signs(breathing, diarrhea, convulsions, etc.), abnormal behaviour (spontaneously in a home cage or when handled).
If the welfare of an animal is considerably deteriorated and it does not improve within 1-2 days after treatment, the animal must be euthanised.  

Mouse and rat anaesthesia and analgesia

Rabbit sedation, anaesthesia and analgesia

Guinea-pig sedation, anaesthesia and analgesia (ANZCCART News, Vol 17(3), p.7-8, 2004)

Pig sedation, anaesthesia and analgesia

Fish anaesthesia  (In Finnish: Hoskonen & Pirhonen)

Postoperative care