USDA Pain Categories




Category B

Breeding or Holding Colony Protocols

Category C

No more than momentary or slight pain or distress and no use of pain-relieving drugs, or no pain or distress. For example: euthanatized for tissues; just observed under normal conditions; positive reward projects; routine procedures; injections; and blood sampling.
1. Holding or weighing animals in teaching or research activities.
2. Injections, blood collection or catheter implantation via superficial vessels.
3. Tattooing animals.
4. Ear punching of rodents.
5. Routine physical examinations.
6. Observation of animal behavior.
7. Feeding studies, which do not result in clinical health problems.
8. AVMA approved humane euthanasia procedures.
9. Routine agricultural husbandry procedures. 10. Live trapping.
11. Positive reward projects.

Category D

 Pain or distress appropriately relieved with anesthetics, analgesics and/or tranquilizer drugs or other methods for relieving pain or distress.
 1. Diagnostic procedures such as laparoscopy or needle biopsies.
2. Non-survival surgical procedures.
3. Survival surgical procedures.
4. Post operative pain or distress.
5. Ocular blood collection in mice.
6. Terminal cardiac blood collection.
7. Any post procedural outcome resulting in evident pain, discomfort or distress such as that associated with decreased appetite/ activity level, adverse reactions, to touch, open skin lesions, abscesses, lameness, conjunctivitis, corneal edema and photophobia.
8. Exposure of blood vessels for catheter implantation.
9. Exsanguination under anesthesia.
10. Induced infections or antibody production with appropriate anesthesia and post-op/postprocedure analgesia when necessary.

Category E

 Pain or distress or potential pain or distress that is not relieved with anesthetics, analgesics and/or tranquilizer drugs or other methods for relieving pain or distress.
 1. Toxicological or microbiological testing, cancer research or infectious disease research that requires continuation until clinical symptoms are evident or death occurs.
2. Ocular or skin irritancy testing.
3. Food or water deprivation beyond that necessary for ordinary pre-surgical preparation.
4. Application of noxious stimuli such as electrical shock if the animal cannot avoid/escape the stimuli and/or it is severe enough to cause injury or more than momentary pain or distress.
5. Infliction of burns or trauma.
6. Prolonged restraint.
7. Any procedures for which needed analgesics, tranquilizers, sedatives, or anesthetics must be withheld for justifiable study purposes.
8. Use of paralyzing or immobilizing drugs for restraint.
9. Exposure to abnormal or extreme environmental conditions.
10. Psychotic-like behavior suggesting a painful or distressful status.
11. Euthanasia by procedures not approved by the AVMA.