Animal welfare

Severity, suffering and supervision protocol

Before starting a procedure, it is essential to assess its severity or the possible suffering caused to animals, in order to weigh the expected benefits of the procedure against the "harm" that it causes in terms of the intensity and duration of the animals' suffering.

Based on this assessment, we can establish a suitable supervision protocol to detect suffering during the procedure, and set quantifiable parameters for applying appropriate corrective measures to eliminate this suffering as much as possible.
Severity scales

  • Non-Recovery
  • Mild Severity
  • Moderate Severity
  • Severe Severity

Annexe 9 of RD 53/2013 of 1 February
Suffering Score

All experimental procedures, especially those of mild or high severity, must include a supervision protocol to allow the application of corrective measures to alleviate suffering, like the use of analgesics or humane slaughter.

One of the most useful protocols is proposed by Morton and Griffiths (Morton D B & Griffiths P H M 1985. Guidelines on the recognition of pain, distress and discomfort in experimental animals and a hypothesis for assessment. Veterinary Record 116: 431-436).

This supervision protocol allows the suffering caused by a procedure to be quantified. It contemplates five variables and each animal is allocated a score per variable.



The corrective measures suggested in accordance with each animal's score are the following.

Mesures corrrectores


Supervision protocol
Some of the parameters proposed by Morton and Griffiths (1985) are difficult to apply in practice, so we are proposing a modified supervision protocol. However, all supervision protocols should take into account the type of procedure and the species they will apply to.