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International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals

History of Animal Experiments

8: Dogs Animal Testing Research

Dogs are described as man's best friend but not when it comes to research. Although they are considered better than rats as predictors of human responses in toxicity tests, they cannot be relied on to give safe results. Oral contraceptives are known to increase the risk of blood clots, causing heart attacks, lung disorders and strokes, and after many deaths, the pill's estrogen content was reduced. Yet animal tests had not only failed to reveal the hazard, but in dogs, oral contraceptives had totally the opposite effect, actually prolonging blood clotting times.(19)

Dogs are widely used in physiological experiments, particularly on the heart. They are a convenient size for surgical procedures, react well to anesthesia and are good tempered. But recent findings show that while the body chemical acetylcholine dilates the coronary arteries in dogs, it has the opposite effect in people, constricting the arteries and leading to heart spasm.(21)

Even in primates, the animals closest to us in evolutionary terms, subtle differences in physiology mean that disease can take quite a different form. The use of monkeys to investigate malaria led to the suggestion that coma in human patients is caused by an increased concentration of protein in the cerebrospinal fluid and that this leakage could be corrected with steroids. But steroids do not help people and subsequent clinical observation of malaria patients showed that the monkey model may simply not be relevant.(22) Attempts to induce AIDS in non-human primates have proved equally unsuccessful. In 1989 the weekly science magazine Nature noted that more than six years after being inoculated with human brain tissue containing HIV-1, chimpanzees still show no sign of the disease.23 (The latest reports also suggest that the recent and much heralded mouse models of AIDS, produced by inserting parts of the human immune system into the animals, may not only be biologically irrelevant but could also promote hazardous changes in the AIDS virus.54)

 

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