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  • Writer's pictureLindsay Oliver

What is Animal Testing?

Everything you need to know.

Call it animal testing, animal research, or animal experimentation, it all means the same thing—experiments performed on living beings. These experiments include diet pills, cosmetics, drugs, alcohol, vaccines, cognitive and psychiatric tests, industrial and consumer products, medical devices, and a myriad of chemicals, including chemical warfare. Animals are also used for medical training and inside classrooms.

I’ve seen this firsthand.

Inside labs, animals are locked, usually alone, in tiny cages. They have barely enough room to turn around, are fed the bare minimum to keep them alive, and are driven insane by their surroundings. They cry, pound on cage walls, pace in circles, pull out their hair, and bite their fingers and arms out of frustration.

Generally, animals in labs have no windows or access to the outdoors—they are denied the sun’s warmth, the softness of grass, and everything intrinsic to them.

And that’s not to mention the experiments.

How Are Animals Tested On?

Animals are prodded, stabbed, choked, and drugged on a regular basis. Painful chemicals are put on their skin, in their eyes, and up their noses. Implants are surgically embedded under their skin or in their skulls. Animals are injected with diseases, forced to inhale toxic chemicals, and become addicted to drugs.

While there are endless experiments animals are used in, here are a few examples:

  • Forced Swim - animals are put in an inescapable tank filled with water forcing animals to “swim” until they almost drown so researchers can “study” depression.

  • Lethal Dose 50 Percent (LD50) - researchers force chemicals, drugs, or substances on animals to see how much it takes to kill fifty percent of the animals in the experiment.

  • Draize Eye and Skin Irritation - a forced application of a substance (can include soaps, cosmetics, cleaners, etc.) to gauge the level of irritation to the animals eyes and skin.

  • Alcohol - Forcing alcohol down animals' throats while they’re often restrained.

  • Nicotine - addicting animals, including pregnant mothers to nicotine via forced inhalation or nicotine patches.

  • Maternal deprivation - researchers took infants from their mothers and replaced them with “surrogates” they built out of sharp wire or other painful materials known to cause trauma.

This is no way to treat any living being and, inside labs, they have no meaningful protections.

The Animal Welfare Act and Animal Testing

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is the only U.S. federal law regulating labs. Yet, it excludes mice, rats, birds, fish, and other small animals—the vast majority of animals in research. Not only do most of those animals have no protections, they aren’t even accounted for, making it difficult to know just how many are in labs. However, recent estimates of just mice and rats are over 110 million. That’s roughly a third of the entire U.S. human population.

The AWA sets unacceptably basic standards for housing, feeding, handling, and veterinary care, and it doesn’t prohibit any kind of experiment regardless of the amount of pain and suffering it might cause.

Other animals trapped in labs include cats, dogs, rabbits, primates, sheep, guinea pigs, hamsters, pigs, cows, and even alligators.

How You Can Help End Animal Testing

You can make a difference by not buying animal tested products, supporting organizations fighting to stop animal experimentation, spreading awareness on your social media channels and inner circles about how animals in labs are treated, signing petitions and supporting active campaigns and legislation, and attending or organizing local events in your area. Lots of ways you can get involved!


Animal research is a topic so many of us are in the dark on—and that’s not by accident. Lab workers are told to downplay animal injuries, illnesses, and their overall suffering because they know people would be shocked and horrified if they knew the truth.

To try and get animals to cooperate with experiments they rightfully fight, labs often withhold fundamental survival needs such as food and water. Imagine being so desperate that you’ll do anything for a drop of water.

This is animal testing.

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