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Alternatives to the Use of Animals in Research
Species-Specific Information & Drug Formulary
Standard Procedures & Guidelines
Policies & Regulations
Animal Care & Use Program
How to Apply to the IACUC
Frequently Asked Questions
Report an Animal Welfare Concern
Animal Research & Care
Laboratory Animal Resource Center(LARC)
Training Program
Working Safely with Animals


  • Animals should receive a pre-anesthesia health observation. If there is any doubt about an animal’s suitability for anesthesia or for a procedure, contact a LARC veterinarian for advice.
  • A 2-day or greater acclimation period is standard before major survival surgery or general survival anesthesia. Exceptions should be approved in advance by IACUC.
  • Rabbits are generally not fasted before anesthesia. Recommended fast durations are overnight (about 8-12 hours) for adult dogs, cats, pigs and macaques, about 4- 6 hours for New World primates, and about 12 – 24 hours for ruminants. These times must be adjusted for neonatal animals, debilitated animals, for special procedures and in other special circumstances as approved by the IACUC and LARC veterinarians. Water is generally not withheld.
  • Anesthetized animals of all species must be attended continuously from onset of anesthesia until anesthetic recovery (i.e., the animal can remain in sternal recumbency or sit up unassisted).
  • An adequate, even depth of anesthesia is maintained by readjusting the vaporizer as necessary, adjusting continuous-rate infusions, or administering supplemental doses of the anesthetic. Anesthetic doses must follow the approved protocol, including intra-operative analgesic drugs. Adequate depth of anesthesia must be determined prior to the initial incision.
  • Anesthetic monitoring always includes responsiveness to painful stimuli, character and rate of respiration, and skin or mucous membrane color. Depending on the species and the procedure, other monitoring parameters may be indicated, such as heart rate, electrocardiography, blood pressure, body temperature, tissue oxygenation, blood gas levels and expiratory capnography.
  • Individual anesthesia records are maintained for large animals (including rabbits) documenting monitoring at approximately 15 minute intervals. More frequent recording is necessary in some instances, while use of continuous monitoring equipment (such as ECG, pulse oximetry, etc.) may require less frequent written charting. Records should extend from onset of anesthesia through the period of anesthetic recovery, and should document post-operative care and analgesia provided. Longer documentation intervals, which must be approved in your protocol, may be acceptable for anesthetized animals in acute (non-survival) procedures, once the active surgical manipulations are completed and more non-invasive imaging or recording is being conducted.
  • The surgical team for major survival surgery in non-rodent mammals must include at least one dedicated person whose primary duties are to monitor the animal and document anesthesia.
  • Hypothermia must be prevented. Examples of thermal support may include careful use of a heat lamp, warm water blanket or gel pack. The use of electric heating pads should be avoided by careful use of a warm-water circulating blankets, thermostatically controlled heated tables, appropriate draping or wrapping with insulating material, or gel packs, as indicated. Monitoring body temperature during and following anesthesia is required for most episodes of general anesthesia. Temperature monitoring is also necessary to prevent hyperthermia.  
  • Dehydration and volume depletion must be prevented during longer procedures and it is standard veterinary care to provide warm isotonic fluid therapy by intravenous and/or subcutaneous administration.  Animals must be continuously attended during recovery from anesthesia. Monitoring data should be documented at 15-30 minute intervals until the animals can remain in sternal recumbency. Endotracheal tubes, when used, must remain in place until the animal has regained a swallowing reflex. Food and water are not offered until the animal is sufficiently recovered from anesthesia and that it is safe to do so.
  • For information on specific anesthetics and analgesics for experimental animals, including recommended doses, routes of administration and conditions for use, refer to the IACUC Formulary.
  • You may also consult with the veterinary staff of the Laboratory Animal Resource Center for advice about the suitability of anesthetic agents by dialing 415-502-8687.