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Office of Research Integrity

Food or Fluid Regulation

In accordance with current regulatory guidelines, the MUSC IACUC requires that scientific justification be provided for utilizing food or fluid restriction, using the least restriction necessary to achieve the scientific objective while maintaining animal well-being.1

During the restriction period, body weights should be recorded at baseline, then at least weekly and more often for animals requiring greater restrictions. Written records need to be maintained daily for each animal to document:

  • food and fluid consumption,
  • hydration status, and
  • any behavioral and clinical changes used as criteria for temporary or permanent removal of an animal from a protocol (which must be clearly detailed as interventional endpoints in the approved protocol).

A DLAR-established or IACUC-approved method of communicating daily feed status to DLAR caretakers must be followed for the duration of food or fluid restriction. Failure to provide daily communication will result in DLAR caretakers providing food and/or water to the animals. The comprehensive daily records described above must be available to DLAR staff, IACUC members or other regulatory/compliance personnel upon request. Failure to provide these records upon request may result in suspension of all food or fluid restriction procedures on the protocol.

While on food restriction, a rodent may not lose more than 20% of free-feeding body weight compared to baseline (if adult) or to age-matched controls. If animals reach 20% weight loss, daily food allowance must be increased to prevent additional weight loss. If weight loss exceeds 20%, animals must be removed from restriction until they again reach 80% total weight of baseline (if adult) or free-feeding age-matched controls.

Animals on fluid restriction must be carefully monitored for signs or symptoms of dehydration. In rodents, a weight loss of 10% of free-feeding body weight compared to baseline (if adult) or age-matched controls will be considered clinically dehydrated and will be treated accordingly by the DLAR veterinary staff.

Proposed restrictions for animals other than rodents will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Animals which must be fasted prior to an anesthetized procedure are not considered to be on food or fluid restriction for the purposes of this policy.

  1. Institute for Laboratory Animal Research. Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals 8th edn. (National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2011).