collection & injections in rodents and
collection techniques in swine
Copyright 2006, University of Minnesota
Board of Regents.
The University of Minnesota is an equal
opportunity educator and employer.
and Handling of Animals
The use of proper restraint
and handling techniques reduces stress to animals and also
to the researcher. Handling stress represents an
experimental variable and should be minimized whenever
possible. Animals can inflict serious injuries to humans and
to themselves as a result of improper handling.
experience stress as a result of shipping. All large
animals must be allowed to acclimate to the facility for
three days. During this time they may not be
experimentally manipulated. Acclimation periods of up to
one week are recommended for all animals.
- If a study will involve
significant handling of animals it is recommended that
the animals be acclimated to the handling. Prior to
experimental manipulation, handle the animal on a regular
basis in a non-threatening situation, e.g. weighing,
petting, giving food treats. Most animals, even rodents
will respond positively to handling and will learn to
- Handle animals gently.
Do not make loud noises or sudden movements that may
- Handle animals firmly.
The animal will struggle more if it sees a chance to
- Use an assistant
- Use restraint
devices to assist
be considered for any prolonged or potentially painful
The methods described below
will assist with performing basic manipulations. Alternate
techniques may be needed for special procedures. Most of
these methods are also demonstrated in video tapes available
to investigator. For other information on animal handling or
for individual training, contact RAR at 624-9100. An
excellent website containing laboratory
biomethodology for rodents and
rabbits is also
available with descriptions and pictures of drug
administration, blood collection and sex
Needle Re-Use Policy
The use of a new sterile needle and syringe for each animal when giving parenteral injections (intraperitoneal, subcutaneous, intravenous,
intramuscular, etc.) is the recommended best practice to prevent the
horizontal transfer of contamination between animals. However, the
IACUC recognizes that there are some instances where it may be justified
to use the same needle and syringe for multiple animals, usually in
rodents. In those instances the Principal Investigator must provide
justification to the IACUC and must adhere to the following guidelines.
Use of the same needle and syringe may be permitted with justification
on animals housed in the same cage. The needle must be assessed for
continued sharpness and the presence of barbing or burring of the tip
between animals. If dullness or needle deterioration is found, a new
needle must be used.
Tail restraint, as
described below is adequate for examining animals
and transfering them to another cage.
These methods may be
used to perform minor, non-painful procedures such
as injections or ear tagging.
may be handled by the tail, with precautions
similar to those used for mice,
with emphasis on only grasping the tail base.
Holding the tail distal to the base can result in a
de-gloving injury to the tail that will require
surgical repair or euthanasia.
This method should be
used to restrain a rat for injections and other
Because hamsters do
not have tails, they must be grasped firmly by the
loose skin of its back, or handled in a manner
similar to the rat.
PIGS rarely bite, but are very easily
frightened and will vocalize and squirm to avoid
restraint. The hind limbs must be supported at all
times to prevent the animal from injuring its
are very susceptible to lumbar spinal luxation,
resulting in paralysis. It is necessary to support
the animal's hindquarter at all times. Although
rabbits seldom bite, they can inflict painful
scratches with their hind legs. One way of lifting
a rabbit is by grasping the skin over the shoulder
with one hand and gently lifting it with the other
arm cradling the body, the head nestled in the
crook of your arm. Rabbits must never by lifted by
are often cooperative enough to be restrained on a
table by the loose skin at the back of the neck and
hips, or with one hand restraining the body and the
other restraining the head. A fractious cat may
have to be wrapped in a heavy towel for restraint
with any needed limbs carefully withdrawn for
A slip lead is
highly recommended for working with dogs. A dog
should always be carried with proper support. The
dog can be restrained in lateral recumbancy or in a
sitting position for injections and minor
procedures. For venipuncture, the handler can
restrain the dog on a table with one arm around its
neck. The other hand is then free to restrain the
body if necessary or to occlude the vein for the
person with the syringe. A shy
or fearful dog
may need extra time spent with it to make it more
comfortable. Moving slowly and speaking quietly
will help to prevent alarming the
An intractable dog
may need to be muzzled. A commercial muzzle may be
purchased, or a gauze muzzle may used as described
Pills are easily
administered to most dogs if the proper technique
no matter how small, can be dangerous. Chemical
immobilization with ketamine
is nolrmally used. Injections can be given to a
confined animal with the help of a squeeze
of a conscious animal should only be attempted by
trained, experienced personnel. Animals may be pole
and collar trained if they will be handled
frequently. Tether systems are recommended if
animals must be administered drugs or if blood must
be collected frequently.
requirements for handling of nonhuman primates
include attending a training module given by
RAR (contact 624-9100 to schedule), and wearing
appropriate protective clothing. In addition,
nonhuman primate users should be familiar with
to follow in case of a bite or
the location of bite kits.
If a nonhuman
primate has escaped, close all doors and
contact RAR at 624-9100. The animal may be
recaptured using a net or a dart gun.
SHEEP and CALVES
against a wall or in a corner by placing a knee
firmly in the flank.
- Restrain for
blood collection by backing the animal into a
corner and straddling them at the shoulder and
firmly restraining the head and
- Use a halter
over their head and face.
- A sheep can be
held for bleeding, shearing or hoof trimming by
sitting the animal up on its hind end, leaning
back against the restrainer.
- For long term
restraint of sheep in the laboratory, a
sling and rack
is available from several commercial suppliers.
Animals are easily acclimated to such slings,
and can be comfortable and relaxed enough to
fall asleep in them.
on handling of agricultural animals is available
from the USDA.
on Low-Stress Handling of Farm
RESTRAINT AND HANDLING OF SWINE
By Dr. Jack Risdahl
Additional information on restraint of, and blood collection from, swine may be found on the UCDavis website. http://ehs.ucdavis.edu/animal/vet_care/training/Pig.cfm
general are friendly and docile but will react
severely to poor handling or a stressful
environment. Pigs can be very vocal. If pigs are
chronically stressed they will become skittish
and fearful. Handling and restraint in pigs
relies greatly on treating the pigs in a humane
manner. The benefits of treating pigs well
include reducing apprehension, fear and stress
in the pigs. There are several levels of
restraint and handling, from touching and
coaxing a pig to restraining a pig for chronic
Touch is a
very important aid to good
a pig be sure it is made aware of your presence.
If pigs are startled they may cause injury to
themselves or others in the pen. The best way to
make pigs aware of your presence is to use your
voice. It is important to use a soft soothing
voice and not angry, loud, high pitched tone of
voice which might startle or stress the animal.
Pigs quickly learn to recognize voices,
especially if they are associated with food. As
pigs become familiar with handlers, the sound of
a familiar voice is often calming to the animal.
It is important to use touch when developing a
rapport with pigs. This applies especially to
the researcher who must collect frequent samples
or data from pigs. As with voice, gentle petting
and hand contact should be associated with
feeding time or treats and the pig will become
aware of the person in the vicinity and become
adjusted to that persons presence. Probably one
of the best forms of restraint in pigs is the
use of food. Pigs are highly oriented to food
and if they are comfortable with the handler
will most often stand and eat while minor
procedures and examinations are being performed
on them. One can often flush catheters, give
injections, treat minor wounds and take
temperatures while pigs eat. The use of all
three procedures - voice, touch, and food, will
be the best investment in reducing stress among
research swine and will ultimately reward the
researcher with a happy stress free
The giving of
food is one of the most effective forms of basic
restraint in the pig.
tolerate being picked up in a "horizontal"
fashion oriented to the ground. Pigs should not
be picked up by the legs or held upside down as
this will stress the animal and you will loose
their trust. Usually only smaller animals may be
picked up while larger animals (>35-40 kg)
must be moved by alternative means. Smaller pigs
may be easily picked up with their body
supported while their legs hang. To perform the
procedure in larger pigs place one arm under the
chest cranial to the thoracic limbs and the
other arm cranial to the pelvic limbs under the
abdomen picking up the pig in a "scooping"
fashion. Alternatively the arm may be placed
caudally just above the pig's hock, hence
supporting the animal by the pelvis rather than
the abdomen. All handlers must beware to lift
with legs and not back as injury can easily
result - pigs are usually heavier than they
appear! Always avoid picking pigs up by one leg
or by the ears as injury may result!
board used to apply pressure to the side of a
Pigs are best
moved in a metal (box style) transport designed
for use with large animals. At times this is not
possible and pigs must be walked to their
destination. When moving a pig always remember
pigs will move away from walls toward openings.
This is an advantage since one can use a "hog
board" to simulate walls. The board is fashioned
with a handle so that one can place it to the
side, rear or front of the pig to direct them.
Excessive force should not be needed to move a
pig and is mostly counterproductive as pigs will
become excited and belligerent. It should be
remembered pigs will refuse to move if the place
you wish them to go is dark (e.g. from daylight
into a dark room). Sometimes pigs may be coaxed
with food along with the use of the board. When
pigs are unruly and where control is needed,
pigs may be tethered in a harness and controlled
by "holder" so that the pig does not run away.
Often the use of the hog board may be used to
stop pig and slow them down if they are moving
too rapidly. The board may also be used to
restrain a pig in a corner while minor
procedures are performed. The size of the board
varies depending on the size of pigs used and
application. In general if the board is at least
as tall as the pig and 2/3 to about as long as
the pig it will usually suffice.
for slings to restrain pigs have been described.
The most commonly used is that described by
Panepinto et al 1983. Here the pig is placed in
a hammock with four holes for the limbs. The
hammock is supported by a metal frame. These are
available in free standing or winch styles (so
larger pigs may be raised by winch). The pig is
placed in ventral recumbency in the sling with
its limbs tied loosely to the frame. It has been
our experience that this form of restraint
requires some degree of training for pigs to
acclimate to. In general most pigs will become
stressed the first several times they are placed
in the sling. Positive reinforcement (treats,
petting) and repetition usually calms them down
so that they may be restrained for extended
periods in the sling. We have generally used a
training period of two weeks prior to
experimental procedures with a minimum of 30
min./day in the sling. In our experience one or
two hours is about the most a pig will
It should be
remembered that pigs are social animals and have
a rigid dominance hierarchy. If animals are
group housed they will generally fight to
establish dominance for the first 24-48 hours.
Dominance in pigs is almost directly related to
size. The largest animals are dominant and
smallest are submissive. Be sure to match
weights as close as possible when introducing
new pigs to each other. Smaller pigs may be
injured by larger pigs. Be sure to monitor pigs
for the introduction period so that they do not
cause major injury to each other - they will
fight. Always remember that newly arrived pigs
are stressed from transport. Do not initiate
experimental procedures in the first few days of
arrival. This is just common sense as immune
function and physiologic parameters are often
altered by stress. We like to see an acclimation
period of two weeks so that pigs may adapt to
their new environment and establish rapport with
- A butterfly
needle can be attached to a syringe for
administering injections to swine, allowing
them to move during the injection without
displacing the needle.
injections may be given in the ear
- Oral drugs
may be administered ground or whole mixed
with a food treat.
- Pills can be
administered orally as with dogs.
However, the handler must be sure to get the
pill all the way behind the tongue and must
avoid being bitten.
- Some drugs
may be administered rectally. A literature
review should be performed for the drug in
question prior to attempting
central venous catheters are recommended if
animals will be receiving drugs on a regular
to blood collection techniques in
Restraint devices such as
rabbit or rodent restrainers, swine slings or monkey chairs
are useful for certain non-painful procedures.
However, certain guidelines should be followed when using
- Animals should be
adapted to the restraint devices. This means that
for long-term restraint (i.e. more than an hour), it is
advisable to "train" the animal to the device by placing
it into the device for successively longer intervals
until the maximum time of restraint can be achieved
without causing distress to the animal.
- Animals in a restraint
device be regularly monitored. This means not
leaving the area for long intervals unless someone else
is available to monitor the animal. Animals have an
uncanny ability to attempt escape from devices, if they
don't succeed completely, they may end up with a limb or
their head entrapped. This could result in ischemia
- Animals should have
access to food or water at appropriate intervals, even
when restrained, unless doing so would interfere with the
goals of the experiment. Food or water should be
offered twice daily. For rabbits and rodents, water
should be offered more frequently.
- Animals should be
released from restraint devices at least daily and
allowed unrestrained activity to prevent muscle atrophy
and skin necrosis, unless this interferes with achieving
the experimental goals and is documented in an approved
The information contained in this site is
intended as a reference for University of Minnesota
investigators, and animal husbandry and veterinary staff.
Drug information and dosages are derived from a variety of
sources and do not necessarily guarantee safety or efficacy.
Information obtained through this site should not be relied
upon as professional veterinary advice. Any medications
administered or procedures performed on animals should only
be performed by or under order of a qualified, licensed