In more than 2 000 cases, the dogs were used to test whether or not repeated doses of drugs were toxic. Picture: Pixabay

London - Animal testing on dogs is on the rise, with a 16 percent increase in the number of experiments involving them last year.

However, overall scientific testing on live animals has fallen to its lowest level since 2007.

The dogs, mainly beagles, have been used to test procedures for human respiratory problems and to see how parts of the body such as the musculoskeletal system work, among other studies.

In more than 2 000 cases, the dogs were used to test whether or not repeated doses of drugs were toxic.

Researchers carried out 3.52 million procedures on living animals in England, Scotland and Wales last year, down seven percent from 2017, according to data from the Home Office, which is responsible for regulating animal experiments.

Mice, fish and rats were used in 93 percent of tests, but there were 634 additional experiments involving dogs last year compared with 2017.

Studies involving horses have gone up 19 percent in the past decade, while the number of experimental procedures on birds has increased from 130 000 to 147 000.

Frances Rawle, the director of policy, ethics and governance at the Medical Research Council, said: "The use of animals in medical research remains essential for us to develop new and better treatments and to understand the biology of disease.

"If researchers are applying for funding for studies involving animals, they must give clear scientific reasons for using them and explain why there are no realistic alternatives."

Dr Penny Hawkins, the head of the research animals department at the RSPCA, said: "Behind these numbers are the lives of millions of individual animals. Each is sentient and each is capable of experiencing pain, suffering and distress."

Daily Mail