What are the Three Types of Animal Restraint Techniques?
Restraint is the use of manual, mechanical or chemical means to limit some or all of an animal's normal voluntary movement for the purposes of examination, collection of samples, drug administration, therapy, or manipulation.1 In general, restraint is used to control or prevent harmful action or behavior on the part of an animal during handling, transport or medical treatment.
Based on recommendations from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), methods used “should provide the least restraint required to allow the specific procedure(s) to be performed properly, should minimize fear, pain, stress and suffering for the animal, and should protect both the animal and personnel from harm.”
There are three types of restraint techniques used for animals in veterinary medicine:
Physical restraints limit an animal’s movement. These include, but are not limited to:
- Manual restraint by a handler (e.g., hands)
- Traps that temporarily restrain wild animals in the field
- Muzzles which prevent a frightened animal from biting a handler
- Slip leads, for non-aggressive domestic animals, such as dogs
- Rigid leads (if the behavior/temperament of a dog is unknown); these are also used by animal control and wildlife managers for foxes and badgers
- Tongs or graspers
- Nets (for some birds and smaller animals)
- Extension poles for the restraint and control of animals at a distance
- Towels, cloths and blankets
- Halters to control the head of larger domesticated animals
- Head collars (primarily for the head control of equines)
In some purpose-designed restraints such as muzzles and halters, the restraints are soft padded for the animal’s comfort and to reduce the risk of injury.
Environmental restraints control an animal’s mobility. These would include such things as temporary traps, cages, kennels, runs or stalls.
Chemical restraint includes any form of medication used not to treat illness, but to intentionally inhibit movement. This is often required in the veterinary practice to immobilize domestic animals for medical treatments (e.g., dentistry, surgery); it is also routinely required in zoo settings, and in wild animals in the field. Wild animals may be immobilized for relocation purposes, bio-measurement, ear-tagging, microchipping, vaccinations, radio collaring or deworming. In certain instances, blood and hair collection may also be performed for DNA testing.1
Veterinarians in domestic and wildlife medicine administer anesthetic drugs, using different types of delivery systems. In cooperative animals, hand-held injections or the pole-syringed administration are usually the delivery routes of choice.2With exotic animals, this is more often the case in a zoo setting or with smaller animals. If an animal is large, dangerous or uncooperative, remote delivery systems using blow darts, gunpowder explosive darts or compressed gas projectors are the most suitable choices.3
In the case of any restraint of domestic or wild animals, every effort should be made to ensure adequate and ongoing training in animal handling and behavior by all parties involved, so that distress and physical restraint are minimized.1
Interested in learning more about safe capture? The San Diego Zoo now offers courses in safe capture techniques and best practices. Learn reliable, safe, and effective techniques for the species you work with and the scenarios you encounter!
2West, G., et. al. Zoo Animal and Wildlife Immobilization and Anesthesia, Second Edition, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., July 2014.
3Kreeger, T., Arnemo, J. Handbook of Wildlife Chemical Immobilization. Fifth edition, 2018
About NexGen Pharmaceuticals
NexGen Pharmaceuticals is an industry-leading veterinary compounding pharmacy, offering sterile and non-sterile compounding services nationwide. Unlike other veterinary compounding pharmacies, NexGen focuses on drugs that are difficult to find or are no longer available due to manufacturer discontinuance or have yet to be offered commercially for veterinary applications, but which still serve a critical need for our customers. We also specialize in wildlife pharmaceuticals, including sedatives and their antagonists, offering many unique options to serve a wide array of zoo animal and wildlife immobilization and anesthesia requirements.
Our pharmacists are also encouraged to develop strong working relationships with our veterinarians in order to better care for veterinary patients. Such relationships foster an ever-increasing knowledge base upon which pharmacists and veterinarians can draw, making both significantly more effective in their professional roles.
The information contained in this blog post is general in nature and is intended for use as an informational aid. It does not cover all possible uses, actions, precautions, side effects, or interactions of the medications shown, nor is the information intended as medical advice or diagnosis for individual health problems or for making an evaluation as to the risks and benefits of using a particular medication. You should consult your veterinarian about diagnosis and treatment of any health problems. Information and statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA"), nor has the FDA approved the medications to diagnose, cure or prevent disease. Medications compounded by NexGen Pharmaceuticals are prepared at the direction of a veterinarian. NexGen Pharmaceuticals compounded veterinary preparations are not intended for use in food and food-producing animals.
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