84.2% of the animals used in research and testing were conducted on mice, rats, fish, and birds, which was slightly lower than in other countries. However, with the inclusion of cattle, this percentage rises to 93.9%. Similarly to other countries, monkeys (4,942), cats (5,035), and dogs (9,573) comprised a small proportion of animals used for research, together accounting for 0.5% of all research animals, with an overall decrease of 5,592 animals from 2014 for these species.
Pain, suffering, and harm were also measured and classified under four categories of invasiveness:
- None: Experiments which cause little of no discomfort or stress
- Mild: Experiments which cause minor stress or pain of short duration
- Moderate: Expierments which cause moderate to severe distress or discomfort
- Severe: Procedures which cause severe pain near, at, or above the pain tolerance threshold of unanesthetized conscious animals.
It is important to understand that every animal in a group will receive the highest category of any single animal in that group, so if a study involved giving different animals different doses of a compound (in a single study), then all animals would receive a category of invasiveness equal to that received by the highest dose group. For further details on what these categories mean, please see here. In 2015, 31.1% of experiments were classified as “none” (this includes studies where the animal are anaesthetised and never woken up), 37.4% were considered “mild”, 29.5% were “moderate”, and 2% were “severe”.
Overall, there seems to be an upward trend in the number of animals used in research in Canada over the last 20 years, although this pattern is not particularly clear due to annual fluctuations. These fluctuations may be a consequence of the accounting procedures used (which changed in 2012), and may only reflect animals used in CCAC-certified institutions.
Finally, the CCAC Animal Data Report 2015 provides some information on animal use. The most common purpose of animal experiments was for basic research (61.2%), followed by “development of products or appliances for human or veterinary medicine” (16.0%); studies into human and animal diseases or disorders (12.9%); Regulatory tests (“animal testing”) (5.5%); and finally education and training (4.4%).
For more information see our Briefing on Animal Research in Canada.