Food and water restriction can be an important and commonly used research tool in many experimental studies. This restriction has the potential to adversely affect an animal's well-being. In keeping within federal and university guidelines, and policies to minimize pain, distress and discomfort of animals used in research, the following guidelines have been developed for implementing food or water restriction or manipulation in experimental studies involving animals.
Pre-anesthetic fasting (with access to water) does not fall under these guidelines. See the species-specific anesthesia and anesthesia guidelines for recommendations on this topic.
In a natural environment, it is not uncommon for animals to have restricted access to food and/or water throughout the day. “Working” for a food reward is also not a completely foreign activity, as animals in nature must forage or hunt for their food. As long as the periods of deprivation do not exceed the ability of homeostatic mechanisms to compensate, these animals are able to carry out normal activities. Common purposes for using food or water deprivation or restriction:
Common purposes for using food or water deprivation or restriction:
Studies pertaining to metabolism, energy regulation, fluid balance, etc.
Studies pertaining to mechanisms and motivations of hunger and/or thirst.
Studies using hunger or thirst as a motivating force to perform behavioral tasks.
To promote a healthier body condition in an obese or sedentary animal.
Studies analyzing the effects of restriction or manipulation on aging or cancer.
Prior to surgery, to prevent complications such as vomiting and aspiration.