A NSW Government website

Animal Ethics Infolink
A NSW DPIRD and Animal Research Review Panel initiative

Guidelines for tick serum producers


The following guidelines have been produced by the Animal Research Review Panel to assist producers of dog tick antiserum in developing their own guidelines or standard operating procedures, to be approved by the supervising animal care and ethics committee.

Animal Welfare Code of Practice to apply

As a document has already been established by the Animal Welfare Advisory Council for breeding dogs, the ‘Animal Welfare Code of Practice for the Care and Management of Breeding Dogs’, this Code should be applied to producers of dog tick antiserum, with the following additions or amendments.

General Husbandry


  • animals should be able to have a view of other dogs and their surroundings
  • a dry, raised resting area should be provided large enough to allow access by all members of the group
  • dogs should not be housed singly for prolonged periods


  • dogs that die or are euthanased should be given a full post mortem examination, unexpected deaths must be reported to the Chairman of the ACEC as soon as possible
  • a veterinarian should be on call at all times
  • dogs should be given a complete health check every year, particularly teeth, complete blood count and biochemistry, outside of the bleeding season
  • during the tick season, dogs should be examined weekly by a veterinarian for any signs of ill health or adverse reactions


  • animals should not be allowed to become obese due to the effects of anaesthetic
  • fresh meat and bones should be provided on a regular basis for behavioural enrichment and dental health


  • should be provided in an area other than the dogs’ permanent run, at least once a day for a minimum of thirty minutes


  • dogs should be given daily contact with people for a reasonable period of time other than during feeding, cleaning or other routine husbandry procedures
  • Records to be kept:
    • numbers of ticks applied, dates and any adverse reactions
    • daily husbandry
    • weekly vet checks
    • yearly physical examinations
    • breeding
    • bleeding - dates, haematocrit, blood volumes taken, body weight, clinical signs,
    • results of post mortem examinations

Breeding and replacement animals

  • selection of breeding stock should be on proven tick resistance, placid nature, adaptability to the bleeding process, health and conformation
  • dogs selected from outside sources should be healthy and be of a suitable temperament
  • dogs which fail to adapt or respond adversely to the placement of ticks or to the bleeding process should be culled
  • pups should be socialised from an early age

Introduction of new animals

  • pups bred in the colony should be placed into groups based on size and compatibility and should remain in these groups
  • animals showing constant signs of aggression to other dogs should be removed and introduced to another group
  • animals from outside the colony should be given a thorough health check, isolated and vaccinated, as advised by a veterinarian, before being introduced to the colony

Induction of hyper-immunity

  • ticks should be introduced onto dogs in gradually increasing numbers over a period of weeks
  • dogs should not be bled for hyperimmune serum until the end of the second year that they have been carrying ticks
  • dogs which show adverse reactions should be removed from the program and closely monitored and treated if necessary
  • dogs which continually show signs of adverse reaction or tick removal behaviour should be culled
  • dogs should be trained from an early age to accept the process of tick placement
  • dogs should be lightly restrained and the ticks applied by an experienced operator to the skin of the neck and ears

Collection of blood for hyperimmune serum production

Bleeding methods

  • bleeding is to be carried out under supervision of a veterinarian with the dogs fully anaesthetised
  • anaesthetic should be short acting
  • dogs should be fully recovered from anaesthetic before being placed back in the group
  • dogs should be clinically examined and weighed prior to each bleed
  • haematocrit should be measured for each dog prior to bleeding
  • dogs with a haematocrit of less than 35% should not be bled
  • bleeding should be carried out under the same conditions of asepsis that apply in current veterinary practice

Volumes of blood to be taken

Volumes up to 25 ml per kg may be taken, depending on the acute and long term response of the animal.

Monitoring during bleeding

  • dogs should be monitored closely during the bleeding process for mucous membrane colour and refill time, blood pressure, heart and respiration rates
  • bleeding should cease should any signs of hypovolaemia develop


BVA/FRAME/RSPCA/UFAW "Removal of blood from laboratory mammals and birds" First Report of the Joint Working Group on Refinement, Laboratory Animals (1993) 27: 1-22.

Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources Committee on Dogs (1994) ‘Dogs: laboratory animal management’ National Academy Press, Washington D.C.

NH&MRC ‘Draft policy on the care of dogs in medical research’ March 1996, Canberra.

NSW Agriculture ‘Animal Welfare Code of Practice: The care and management of breeding dogs" (1996) NSW Agriculture, Orange.

Animal Research Review Panel Guideline 11