Office of Research, UC Riverside
Office of Campus Veterinarian

Medical Care Guidelines

Preventive Medicine

Animal procurement: Newly acquired animals can introduce disease into established colonies. In addition, production colonies maintained by suppliers occasionally experience outbreaks of disease. The Office of the Campus Veterinarian (OCV) monitors animal health quality from different suppliers and maintains quality control data provided by vendors. This information can be provided to investigators to assist in choosing appropriate sources of animals.

Quarantine and stabilization: With some species of laboratory animals, quarantine is necessary to minimize the introduction of disease into established colonies. The extent of the quarantine period is determined by the species and by knowledge of the animal's source and previous history as well as by regulatory requirements. Arriving animals, regardless of source, should be allowed a stabilization period before use. Such a period allows the animal to recover from shipping stress, adapt to its new surroundings and become physiologically stable. A minimum acclimation period of 72 hours is required for all species. Animals under going treatment will require additional time for recovery and will be made available with approval of the campus veterinarian.

Separation of species: Physical separation of animals by species is generally recommended to reduce the possibility of transmission of latent diseases and to prevent possible inter-species aggression or distress. This separation is usually accomplished by housing different species in separate rooms. Even when animals of the same species are obtained from multiple sources, their microbiological status may differ, in which case separate housing as provided by barrier caging or separate rooms may be advisable.

Animal Transport: All personnel involved in animal care and use are required to ensure that animal transport through public access areas is conducted in a safe and appropriate manner. Public access areas include roadway and areas outside the animal facilities. All transportation of animals and empty carriers, and transport cages should be planned to minimize transit time, reduce the risk of zoonoses, avoid the visibility of animals to the public, and protect the animals against physical trauma. Use service elevators when available.

A. Requirements for Transport Equipment

Species Transport Equipment
Cats, Dogs, Pigs covered large animal transport cage
Rabbits covered large animal transport cage
Rodents covered transport cage or shoebox cage
Dead animals opaque durable double plastic bag of appropriate size

Please note that isolation gowns and biohazard bags are not acceptable for covering rodent cages. If rodents are coming from non-barrier areas, please place cages in an opaque plastic bag or cover with an opaque cloth drape. If rodents are coming from a barrier-maintained area, they must be placed into an opaque plastic bag before they are taken from the room in which they are housed. Use double bags to transport dead animals. If the animals were used in research involving biohazardous materials, follow the disposition procedures as recommended by the Environmental Health and Safety Office (x82648) and the Radiation Safety Office (x85746).

B. Requirements for Transport Vehicles

Transporting animals in vehicles not specifically designated for animal transportation (e.g., personal or rented vehicles) is strongly discouraged.

The following contains general guidelines when a commercial transport company is not used:

  • Cargo space must be constructed and maintained in a manner that protects the health and well-being of the animals, including precluding the entry of exhaust fumes;
  • Animal cargo space must have a supply of air that is sufficient for the normal breathing of all animals;
  • Air supply to the animal cargo space shall not be shared with the air supply of the operator(s) to minimize the transmission of zoonotic agents by aerosol;
  • Ambient temperature of the vehicle must be maintained between 45°F and 85°F;
  • It is required to sanitize the transport vehicle after transportation of the animals;
  • If a passenger vehicle is used, place plastic or similar material on the floor under the transport cage to minimize contamination;
  • For transporting large species of animals, a cargo van is preferred provided the transport cages can be adequately secured to prevent movement.


Surveillance, Diagnosis, Treatment and Control of Disease

A veterinary medical surveillance program is in effect for all animals maintained at UCR. Animal health is monitored daily, including weekends and holidays, for signs of illness, injury, or abnormal behavior. In cases where such observation will interfere with experimental objectives, prior arrangements must be made with the OCV to ensure adequate monitoring of animals and environmental systems. A mouse and rat sentinel monitoring program is in effect in all vivarium. Samples are periodically taken from each sentinel cage and submitted for comprehensive testing. If evidence of infectious pathogens are discovered and confirmed in the sentinel animals, investigators are notified. Health surveillance information, including information provided to us by our vendors, is maintained on file and available to investigative staff upon request. For more information on the surveillance, diagnosis, treatment, and control of animal diseases, including the possible affects of disease on experimental animal models, contact the Office of the Campus Veterinarian (909-787-6332).

Emergency Care

Health problems noted by animal should be reported immediately to the vivarium staff including the animal's identification, room number where it is located, the species, nature of the clinical problem, and the telephone number of the person making the report.

Anesthesia and Analgesia

Animal procedures are reviewed by both the OCV and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee ( IACUC) to ensure that proposed anesthetics and/or analgesics are appropriate for the species and research objectives. The OCV is available upon request to provide assistance with, or training in the proper administration and use of anesthetics.

Personnel must be trained in the proper use of anesthetic vaporizers prior to operation. All anesthetic vaporizers must undergo yearly servicing by qualified personnel. Animal study areas housing anesthetic vaporizers must be inspected yearly by EH&S. Documentation of servicing and EH&S inspection is required and subject to IACUC review.

Written documentation of all surgical procedures, including the types, amounts, and time of administration of anesthetic, analgesic or tranquilizing drugs used and the physiologic parameters (i.e., heart rate, respiratory rate, body temperature) monitored during the procedure, is required. This documentation is subject to inspection by the USDA veterinary inspectors and the IACUC during its semiannual inspections of animal facilities and animal study areas. In addition, all manipulations and drug use must be recorded in the individual animal's record and in the investigator's experimental notebook.

The ILAR Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals requires that any proposal to conduct painful procedures without anesthesia or analgesia must be scientifically justified by the investigator and approved by the institutional animal care and use committee. Such procedures must be directly supervised by the responsible investigator.

Surgery and Postoperative Care

Survival surgery: Survival surgery is defined as any surgery from which the animal recovers consciousness. Major surgery is defined as any surgical intervention that penetrates a body cavity or has the potential for producing a permanent handicap in an animal that is expected to recover. Minor surgery is any operative procedure in which only skin or mucous membrane is incised (e.g., vascular cutdown for catheter placement or implanting pumps in subcutaneous tissue). Because they are minimally invasive, gonadectomies on rodents and lower vertebrates are usually considered minor surgical procedures. Multiple major survival surgery is defined as two or more major survival surgical procedures performed at separate times on a single animal. The IACUC permits multiple major survival surgery only under special circumstances. Cost alone is not an adequate reason for performing multiple major survival surgeries on an animal.

Major surgical procedures on mammals other than rodents must be conducted in OCV and IACUC approved surgical facilities using aseptic techniques. These techniques include wearing sterile surgical gloves, gowns, caps and face masks; using sterile supplies and instruments; and maintaining an aseptically prepared surgical field.

Minor surgical procedures on mammals other than rodents may be performed in a suitably located and equipped laboratory area, subject to approval by the OCV and the IACUC. Appropriate aseptic technique for these procedures includes a clean uncluttered work area, preparation of the surgical site including clipping of the hair, disinfection of the skin and draping of the surgical site with sterile drapes; the use of sterile supplies and instruments; and the use of sterile gloves and a surgical mask by the surgeon and any assistants working in the surgical field.

Surgical Procedures on rodent and non-mammalian species may also be conducted under the above conditions in laboratories or animal facility procedure rooms.

Pre- and Postoperative care: Animals (other than some rodents) should generally be fasted prior to anesthesia and surgery to prevent vomiting, aspiration, and problems associated with a distended intestinal tract. Animals should be evaluated by performing a brief physical examination and recording baseline physiologic measurements of such parameters as body temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate prior to the administration of an anesthetic agent. Animals should be weighed and dosages of agents administered calculated individually according to body weight measurements.

Postsurgical care includes clinical observation of the animal to ensure uneventful recovery from anesthesia and surgery. Once the animal has been returned to its normal housing area, subsequent care may be necessary. This may include supportive fluids, analgesics, and other drugs as required; monitoring of the animal to include daily body temperatures, clinical observations for signs of pain, abnormal behavior, appetite and excretory functions, and providing adequate care of surgical incisions. The investigator is responsible for supportive care unless arrangements have been made to contract OCV veterinary staff for these services. Written post-operative records including date, time, person making the observations, condition of animals, and any treatments/procedures performed should be maintained for inspection by USDA, IACUC, OCV, or other regulatory inspections.

Non-survival surgery: Non-survival surgery is defined as any surgery in which the animal will not regain consciousness. Such procedures may be performed in a suitably located and equipped laboratory, subject to OCV and IACUC evaluation and approval.

For more information please contact the Office of Campus Veterinarian (909) 787-6332 and refer to the UC Riverside Laboratory Animal Care and Use Training Manual.


Euthanasia is generally performed at the end of a project or, if possible, during a procedure in which animals experience severe or chronic pain or distress that cannot be relieved (9 CFR 2.31; PHS, 1986). Since there may be a need to euthanize animals for unanticipated reasons even on protocols that do not include euthanasia as part of the planned project, at least one method must be documented for each species used in a protocol. The euthanasia method chosen must be appropriate for the species and research use described by the protocol, and must be consistent with the current recommendations of the American Veterinary Medical Association Guidelines on Euthanasia. If the method deviates from AVMA recommendations, the deviation must be justified scientifically and approved by the IACUC. Euthanasia should be performed humanely, quickly and efficiently in a nonpublic area but generally not in rooms in which animals are housed. Conditionally acceptable methods must be scientifically justified by the Principal Investigator and approved by the IACUC .

Guidelines for Euthanasia