In my career, I have witnessed first-hand the vital importance of animal research in veterinary medicine and human healthcare. Monday through Friday, I work in a children’s research hospital, and on weekends, I work as a licensed veterinary medical technician at a local animal clinic. But on a more personal note, I see the value of animal research in the eyes of my ten-year-old German Shepherd, Lady, who can now walk and exercise comfortably without the crippling pain she used to feel as a symptom of her osteoarthritis.
In 2015, I was studying to become a veterinary technician when I learned about a study with dogs to test the efficacy of an anti-inflammatory medication and decided to include Lady. At that time, it became apparent that she needed something more than vitamins and supplements to control her osteo-arthritis pain. As it turned out, the researchers concluded the anti-inflammatory drug works in doses much smaller than what is normally prescribed. This means it could safely and effectively treat osteoarthritis symptoms without putting excess strain on the dogs’ livers and gastrointestinal systems. (This could be good news for people, too, as anti-inflammatories can be taxing on human livers.)
The study also tested the effectiveness of a device used to remotely monitor, record, and report the animals’ resting heart rates, respiration, activity levels, and sleep. A version of the device was introduced to veterinary hospitals that same year, offering clinical-grade information for veterinarians to track a variety of health conditions in animals. The data displayed on the device confirmed what I already knew: that the medication made Lady’s condition more manageable; that she felt happier and more comfortable. Plus, by using the data to find a lower dose that’s still effective in treating her pain, I was able to make sure she’s as healthy as possible–while also saving some money on the cost of her prescription!
After my involvement in the research project, I decided to change my course of study from the clinical veterinary track to laboratory animal research. Because I was able to see animal research is not just for humans–it’s for animals, too.
The Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) is working to help the public better understand the importance of laboratory animal studies in veterinary medicine. Learn more by checking out FBR’s outreach campaign, “Love Animals? Support Animal Research”
Research Technician, Licensed Veterinary Technician