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The welfare impact of gavaging laboratory rats

By M. Bonnichsen, N. Dragsted, A. K. Hansen

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Gavaging (oral dosing) has previously been shown to have only a short-term effect on behavioural parameters in the laboratory rat. The aim of this study was to determine if the gavaging of laboratory rats influenced their heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature, and if so, whether the duration of this impact correlated with the volume gavaged. The three stress parameters were measured using telemetric transponders placed in the abdomen of eight female Sprague-Dawley (Mol:SPRD) rats. Using a Latin Square cross-over design, the rats were gavaged with three different doses of barium sulphate (4, 10 and 40 ml kg-1); in addition, there was a control of no dose, only insertion of the tube. The heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature of the rats were monitored continuously for 4 h after dosing and again for 1 h, 24 h after dosing. The gavaging of laboratory rats was shown to induce an acute reaction: after 30 min, blood pressure and heart rate were significantly higher than before gavaging, and body temperature was significantly higher 60 min after gavaging - indicators of stress levels comparable to those of other basic experimental procedures. A significant correlation between heart rate and dosage was observed until 10 min after gavaging. This indicates that the dosage gavaged is of only minor importance in causing stress, and only important for the most acute reaction. However, because of the resistance and discomfort observed when administering a 40 ml kg-1 dose, this dose should be administered only with caution.

Date 2005
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 14
Issue 3
Pages 223-227
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Division of Laboratory Animal Science and Welfare, Department of Pharmacology and Pathobiology, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Dyrlaegevej 35, DK-1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal experimentation
  3. Animal physiology
  4. Animal research
  5. Animal rights
  6. Animal welfare
  7. Blood Pressure
  8. Body temperature
  9. Heart rate
  10. Laboratories
  11. Laboratory and experimental animals
  12. Laboratory animal science
  13. Mammals
  14. peer-reviewed
  15. Rats
  16. Rodents
  17. Stress
  18. Stress response
  1. peer-reviewed