Although the terms analgesia and anesthesia are often confused with one another, they refer to two different outcomes. Analgesia is the relief of pain without the loss of consciousness or sensation using analgesics (e.g., Aspirin, Carprofen, etc.). Anesthesia, on the other hand, is the loss of physical sensation with or without loss of consciousness using anesthetics (e.g., Ketamine, Propofol, Isoflurane, etc.). Both practices should be used in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act to ensure that pain and distress are minimized (7 U.S.C. § 2143 (a)(3A)(2020)) in animals used for research, testing, education, and exhibition. Treatment of pain should be tailored to the individual animal while taking the following factors into consideration: appropriate drug selection and dose, procedure, degree of pain, patient health status and any other contributing factors that you discuss with your institutional veterinarian.
This section highlights some current analgesia and anesthesia best practices that can be referenced by individuals working with animals used for research, testing, education, and exhibition (i.e., the regulated community). AWIC also created the bibliography below on Analgesia and Anesthesia for Laboratory and Companion Animals that provides an extensive list of citations on current analgesia and anesthesia practices.
** The resources provided are for reference. Please consult with your institution’s veterinarian prior to using analgesics and anesthetics.