Standard on Anesthetized Non-Surgical Procedures for Rats and Mice


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Standard on Anesthetized Non-Surgical Procedures for Rats and Mice



Anesthesia may be utilized for procedures that are not classified as survival or nonsurvival surgeries. This document serves to describe the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's ("UNC-Chapel Hill" or "University") Standard for planning, documenting, using, and monitoring anesthesia and analgesia use in rodents that are not undergoing surgical procedures.


This Standard applies to all personnel engaged in the experimentation and/or monitoring of research animals requiring anesthetic agents in rodents for procedures not classified as surgery.

The UNC-Chapel Hill Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) expects that anyone involved in animal work at the University will comply with this Standard. Requests for exceptions to this Standard must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC.


Note: The following are requirements for ALL anesthetized procedures (e.g., anesthesia only, survival surgery, non-survival surgery):

A. Pre-Procedure Planning:

  1. Procedures must be performed by qualified personnel according to the approved IACUC protocol.
  2. Contact UNC-Chapel Hill Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM) Veterinarians for consultation prior to submission of protocol.
    1. Analgesia and Anesthesia Formulary - Mice
    2. Analgesia and Anesthesia Formulary - Rats
  3. Observe the Acclimation period for received animal transfer/shipments.
  4. Pharmaceutical Grade agents must be used unless a non-pharmaceutical grade agent is described in the approved IACUC protocol.  Controlled substances, emergency, anesthetic, analgesic, and euthanasia drugs may not be used beyond the date of expiration, even if used only for terminal procedures.

B. Supportive care for anesthetized animals:

  1. Apply pharmaceutical or veterinary grade ophthalmic lubricant to the eyes and reapply as necessary (unless using inhalant anesthesia lasting <5 minutes).
  2. Provide an appropriate source of heat for the entire animal, including the tail, with care taken to avoid overheating and burns from heat sources (unless using inhalant anesthesia lasting <15 minutes).

C. Documentation:

  1. Dates and times of all observations, treatments, and procedures must be recorded (including anesthetic agents and confirmation of appropriate anesthetic depth).
  2. Any deviations from the approved protocol must be described in an amendment and approved by the IACUC prior to implementation.
  3. All records must be available for review at any time by IACUC representatives and external regulatory or accreditation officials. If a cage card will be the primary documentation record, then this card must be kept for the life of the IACUC protocol. If controlled substances are used, they must also be recorded in the investigator’s controlled drug log per Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) requirements. An example "Rodent Anesthesia/Analgesia/Procedure Record" template is available for download on the UNC-Chapel Hill Research website.

D. Post-Anesthesia and Recovery Care:

  1. Provide the animal a quiet, warm place, isolated from other animals, to recover until fully ambulatory.
  2. To avoid the possibility of aspirating bedding, an anesthetized animal should not be placed directly on bedding.
  3. Do not supply food on the floor until the animal is fully ambulatory.
  4. If an endotracheal tube was used, extubate the animal when swallowing reflexes return.
  5. Place most species in lateral recumbency.
  6. Rotate the body every fifteen minutes to avoid lung collapse.
  7. Maintain records: fluids, analgesia, any treatments, and animal’s behavior. Rodent records may be kept in “batch” form.
    All procedures that result in potential pain and described as Pain Category D on the approved protocol require post-operative analgesia, unless the IACUC has approved a scientific justification that permits withholding of analgesics. If you have questions concerning the type of analgesic needed or when to administer it, contact one of DCM’s veterinarians at 919-962-5335.

E. General Postoperative Analgesia Guidelines:

  1. Unless the protocol has an approved exception stating otherwise, the IACUC requires the administration of analgesics for all procedures that cause more than minimal or momentary pain.
  2. Selection of the appropriate analgesic agent(s) should be based on the type of  procedure, with the time length of administration depending on the nature of the procedure and anticipated pain.  Please consult with a DCM veterinarian for questions. (see Standard on Pain Identification and Post-Operative Analgesia).
  3. Analgesic administration should be documented and administered according to the approved protocol. Changes to the protocol require an amendment as well as IACUC review and approval.
  4. For specific agents, dosages, and routes please refer to the DCM Formularies (links in Section A of this document) or contact DCM Veterinary Services. (Contact information is present in all animal facilities.)


Requests for exceptions to this Standard must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC.


Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Contact Information Table
Subject Contact Telephone Email
Animal Health
DCM Veterinary Services 919-843-3407  
Office of Animal Care and Use 919-966-5569
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Article ID: 132182
Thu 4/8/21 9:25 PM
Thu 4/25/24 9:44 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Research-Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee
Issuing Officer
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Issuing Officer Title
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Vice Chancellor
Next Review
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04/17/2025 12:00 AM
Last Review
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04/17/2024 11:50 AM
Last Revised
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08/05/2022 4:19 PM
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08/05/2022 4:19 PM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
05/04/2020 4:19 PM