Welfare and health management of laboratory dogs, cats and ferrets

Exposure of carnivorans from a young age to complex environments and socialisation is key to the animal’s ability to handle future colony life events or rehoming. Dogs, cats and ferrets favour housing conditions enriched by elevated platforms, provision of comfortable rest areas, frequent renewal of toys, and close intra and inter-species contact. The welfare of carnivorans is improved by an access to an outdoor area or by dedicating staff working hours to play with the laboratory animals. However, contact with biosecurity threats from outside their indoor housing or with staff owning pets may compromise their health status. The management of the colony therefore consists in keeping three parameters in balance: environmental enrichment, health and welfare monitoring, and preventive and curative veterinary treatments. The aim of this working group is to review existing recommendations for the husbandry, care, and health monitoring of dogs, cats and ferrets and to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of some routine care in the context of biomedical research. The working group will focus on non-procedural welfare, i.e. routine husbandry, and will not address welfare impairments directly induced by transport or experiments.

health monitoring, dogs, cats, ferrets







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