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Animals in Research: Searching Alternatives : Searching PubMed

PubMed Search Tips

PubMed is a great database to start with as it is one of the largest biomedical databases available and has very robust subject subject headings called Medical Subject Headings or MeSH.

A few tips for searching PubMed:

  • Formulate your question and brainstorm terms to search before you start.
  • Check the Search Details after every search. Scroll down, it will be on the right.
  • Remember MeSH
    • If the search details indicates that your keyword search didn't match to a MeSH term try again.
    • Look up a term in the MeSH database to see broader and narrower terms you could use.
  • Combine searches using the Advanced search.
    • Search each concept separately and then use AND, OR, or NOT to combine searches.
  • Apply filters at the end (if needed).

There are many links on this page that will automatically run a search in PubMed.  Before clicking on them, click on the PubMed logo below to ensure that PubMed will recognize that you are affiliated with Duke and will show the Get it at Duke buttons.


Copy and Paste These Terms into Your PubMed Search or Click the PubMed Link


  • To exclude animals and humans:
    YOUR TOPIC/OBJECTIVE NOT ("Animals"[Mesh] OR "Humans"[Mesh]) PubMed Link

  • To include possible non-animal models/methods:
    YOUR TOPIC/OBJECTIVE AND (("Models, Theoretical"[Mesh] NOT "Disease Models, Animal"[Mesh]) OR "Computer Simulation"[Mesh] OR "Cadaver"[Mesh] OR "Culture Techniques"[Mesh] OR "Cells, Cultured"[Mesh] OR "In Vitro "[Publication Type]) PubMed Link

  • To exclude mammals:
    YOUR TOPIC/OBJECTIVE AND "Animals" [Mesh] NOT "Mammals"[Mesh] PubMed Link


  • To minimize pain:
    YOUR ANIMAL TYPE AND/OR PROCEDURE AND ("Central Nervous System Depressants"[Mesh] OR "Sensory System Agents"[Mesh] OR "Anesthesia and Analgesia"[Mesh]) PubMed Link

  • To minimize complications:
    YOUR ANIMAL TYPE AND/OR PROCEDURE AND ("Intraoperative Complications"[Mesh] OR "Postoperative Complications"[Mesh] OR "Perioperative Care"[Mesh]) PubMed Link

  • To improve animal welfare:
    YOUR ANIMAL TYPE AND "Animal Welfare"[Mesh] PubMed Link


  • YOUR PROCEDURE AND (("Animal Use Alternatives"[mesh] OR "Animal Welfare"[mesh] OR "animal care committees"[MeSH Terms] OR iacuc[tiab]) OR ((reduce[All Fields] OR refine[All Fields] OR replace[All Fields]) AND ("animals"[MeSH Terms] OR animal*[All Fields]) AND ("research design"[MeSH Terms] OR "research design"[All Fields] OR "test"[All Fields] OR testing[All Fields])))  PubMed Link

Prepared searches are from Chilov, Marina, Matsoukas, Konstantina, Ispahany, Nighat, Allen, Tracy Y. and Lustbader, Joyce W.(2007)'Using MeSH to Search for Alternatives to the Use of Animals in Research',Medical Reference Services Quarterly,26:3,55 — 74. PMID: 17915631

PubMed Filter

User instructions for the PubMed filter:

In case you want to use the filter just for once:

Copy the search filter below and paste it directly into the search box of PubMed. Run the search.

Always check if the entire search string is pasted into the search box.

Some web browsers cause problems when copying and pasting the search string into PubMed (the filter will be cut off at about a quarter of its length). Therefore; Always check if the entire search string is pasted into the search box.  This is often not the case when you receive the error message: ‘The following terms were ignored: ((, OR’) or your search result is much smaller or larger than 5 million hits.

In case the filter is indeed cut off at about a quarter of its length; run any search (for example the letter “Z”).  Click the "See more..." link below the Search details portlet on the right side of the page (You may have to scroll down a little).  Remove the search (“Z”) from the Query Translation box, copy and paste the search filter into the Query Translation box, click the Search button.


In case you want to use the filter regularly:

Create a filter in “my NCBI”.

Go to my NCBI (on the right side at the top of the page). Log in. Scroll down to the box “filters” and click “manage filters”. Click “create custom filter” and copy and paste the search filter into the box. Name the filter (for example “animal filter”) and click “save”.

Text search filter:

(“animal experimentation”[MeSH Terms] OR “models, animal”[MeSH Terms] OR “invertebrates”[MeSH Terms] OR “Animals”[Mesh:noexp] OR “animal population groups”[MeSH Terms] OR “chordata”[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR “chordata, nonvertebrate”[MeSH Terms] OR “vertebrates”[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR “amphibians”[MeSH Terms] OR “birds”[MeSH Terms] OR “fishes”[MeSH Terms] OR “reptiles”[MeSH Terms] OR “mammals”[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR “primates”[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR “artiodactyla”[MeSH Terms] OR “carnivora”[MeSH Terms] OR “cetacea”[MeSH Terms] OR “chiroptera”[MeSH Terms] OR “elephants”[MeSH Terms] OR “hyraxes”[MeSH Terms] OR “insectivora”[MeSH Terms] OR “lagomorpha”[MeSH Terms] OR “marsupialia”[MeSH Terms] OR “monotremata”[MeSH Terms] OR “perissodactyla”[MeSH Terms] OR “rodentia”[MeSH Terms] OR “scandentia”[MeSH Terms] OR “sirenia”[MeSH Terms] OR “xenarthra”[MeSH Terms] OR “haplorhini”[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR “strepsirhini”[MeSH Terms] OR “platyrrhini”[MeSH Terms] OR “tarsii”[MeSH Terms] OR “catarrhini”[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR “cercopithecidae”[MeSH Terms] OR “hylobatidae”[MeSH Terms] OR “hominidae”[MeSH Terms:noexp] OR “gorilla gorilla”[MeSH Terms] OR “pan paniscus”[MeSH Terms] OR “pan troglodytes”[MeSH Terms] OR “pongo pygmaeus”[MeSH Terms]) OR ((animals[tiab] OR animal[tiab] OR mice[Tiab] OR mus[Tiab] OR mouse[Tiab] OR murine[Tiab] OR woodmouse[tiab] OR rats[Tiab] OR rat[Tiab] OR murinae[Tiab] OR muridae[Tiab] OR cottonrat[tiab] OR cottonrats[tiab] OR hamster[tiab] OR hamsters[tiab] OR cricetinae[tiab] OR rodentia[Tiab] OR rodent[Tiab] OR rodents[Tiab] OR pigs[Tiab] OR pig[Tiab] OR swine[tiab] OR swines[tiab] OR piglets[tiab] OR piglet[tiab] OR boar[tiab] OR boars[tiab] OR “sus scrofa”[tiab] OR ferrets[tiab] OR ferret[tiab] OR polecat[tiab] OR polecats[tiab] OR “mustela putorius”[tiab] OR “guinea pigs”[Tiab] OR “guinea pig”[Tiab] OR cavia[Tiab] OR callithrix[Tiab] OR marmoset[Tiab] OR marmosets[Tiab] OR cebuella[Tiab] OR hapale[Tiab] OR octodon[Tiab] OR chinchilla[Tiab] OR chinchillas[Tiab] OR gerbillinae[Tiab] OR gerbil[Tiab] OR gerbils[Tiab] OR jird[Tiab] OR jirds[Tiab] OR merione[Tiab] OR meriones[Tiab] OR rabbits[Tiab] OR rabbit[Tiab] OR hares[Tiab] OR hare[Tiab] OR diptera[Tiab] OR flies[Tiab] OR fly[Tiab] OR dipteral[Tiab] OR drosophila[Tiab] OR drosophilidae[Tiab] OR cats[Tiab] OR cat[Tiab] OR carus[Tiab] OR felis[Tiab] OR nematoda[Tiab] OR nematode[Tiab] OR nematodes[Tiab] OR sipunculida[Tiab] OR dogs[Tiab] OR dog[Tiab] OR canine[Tiab] OR canines[Tiab] OR canis[Tiab] OR sheep[Tiab] OR sheeps[Tiab] OR mouflon[Tiab] OR mouflons[Tiab] OR ovis[Tiab] OR goats[Tiab] OR goat[Tiab] OR capra[Tiab] OR capras[Tiab] OR rupicapra[Tiab] OR rupicapras[Tiab] OR chamois[Tiab] OR haplorhini[Tiab] OR monkey[Tiab] OR monkeys[Tiab] OR anthropoidea[Tiab] OR anthropoids[Tiab] OR saguinus[Tiab] OR tamarin[Tiab] OR tamarins[Tiab] OR leontopithecus[Tiab] OR hominidae[Tiab] OR ape[Tiab] OR apes[Tiab] OR “pan paniscus”[Tiab] OR bonobo[Tiab] OR bonobos[Tiab] OR “pan troglodytes”[Tiab] OR gibbon[Tiab] OR gibbons[Tiab] OR siamang[Tiab] OR siamangs[Tiab] OR nomascus[Tiab] OR symphalangus[Tiab] OR chimpanzee[Tiab] OR chimpanzees[Tiab] OR prosimian[Tiab] OR prosimians[Tiab] OR “bush baby”[Tiab] OR bush babies[Tiab] OR galagos[Tiab] OR galago[Tiab] OR pongidae[Tiab] OR gorilla[Tiab] OR gorillas[Tiab] OR “pongo pygmaeus”[Tiab] OR orangutan[Tiab] OR orangutans[Tiab] OR lemur[Tiab] OR lemurs[Tiab] OR lemuridae[Tiab] OR horse[Tiab] OR horses[Tiab] OR equus[Tiab] OR cow[Tiab] OR calf[Tiab] OR bull[Tiab] OR chicken[Tiab] OR chickens[Tiab] OR gallus[Tiab] OR quail[Tiab] OR bird[Tiab] OR birds[Tiab] OR quails[Tiab] OR poultry[Tiab] OR poultries[Tiab] OR fowl[Tiab] OR fowls[Tiab] OR reptile[Tiab] OR reptilia[Tiab] OR reptiles[Tiab] OR snakes[Tiab] OR snake[Tiab] OR lizard[Tiab] OR lizards[Tiab] OR alligator[Tiab] OR alligators[Tiab] OR crocodile[Tiab] OR crocodiles[Tiab] OR turtle[Tiab] OR turtles[Tiab] OR amphibian[Tiab] OR amphibians[Tiab] OR amphibia[Tiab] OR frog[Tiab] OR frogs[Tiab] OR bombina[Tiab] OR salientia[Tiab] OR toad[Tiab] OR toads[Tiab] OR “epidalea calamita”[Tiab] OR salamander[Tiab] OR salamanders[Tiab] OR eel[Tiab] OR eels[Tiab] OR fish[Tiab] OR fishes[Tiab] OR pisces[Tiab] OR catfish[Tiab] OR catfishes[Tiab] OR siluriformes[Tiab] OR arius[Tiab] OR heteropneustes[Tiab] OR sheatfish[Tiab] OR perch[Tiab] OR perches[Tiab] OR percidae[Tiab] OR perca[Tiab] OR trout[Tiab] OR trouts[Tiab] OR char[Tiab] OR chars[Tiab] OR salvelinus[Tiab] OR minnow[Tiab] OR cyprinidae[Tiab] OR carps[Tiab] OR carp[Tiab] OR zebrafish[Tiab] OR zebrafishes[Tiab] OR goldfish[Tiab] OR goldfishes[Tiab] OR guppy[Tiab] OR guppies[Tiab] OR chub[Tiab] OR chubs[Tiab] OR tinca[Tiab] OR barbels[Tiab] OR barbus[Tiab] OR pimephales[Tiab] OR promelas[Tiab] OR “poecilia reticulata”[Tiab] OR mullet[Tiab] OR mullets[Tiab] OR eel[Tiab] OR eels[Tiab] OR seahorse[Tiab] OR seahorses[Tiab] OR mugil curema[Tiab] OR atlantic cod[Tiab] OR shark[Tiab] OR sharks[Tiab] OR catshark[Tiab] OR anguilla[Tiab] OR salmonid[Tiab] OR salmonids[Tiab] OR whitefish[Tiab] OR whitefishes[Tiab] OR salmon[Tiab] OR salmons[Tiab] OR sole[Tiab] OR solea[Tiab] OR lamprey[Tiab] OR lampreys[Tiab] OR pumpkinseed[Tiab] OR sunfish[Tiab] OR sunfishes[Tiab] OR tilapia[Tiab] OR tilapias[Tiab] OR turbot[Tiab] OR turbots[Tiab] OR flatfish[Tiab] OR flatfishes[Tiab] OR sciuridae[Tiab] OR squirrel[Tiab] OR squirrels[Tiab] OR chipmunk[Tiab] OR chipmunks[Tiab] OR suslik[Tiab] OR susliks[Tiab] OR vole[Tiab] OR voles[Tiab] OR lemming[Tiab] OR lemmings[Tiab] OR muskrat[Tiab] OR muskrats[Tiab] OR lemmus[Tiab] OR otter[Tiab] OR otters[Tiab] OR marten[Tiab] OR martens[Tiab] OR martes[Tiab] OR weasel[Tiab] OR badger[Tiab] OR badgers[Tiab] OR ermine[Tiab] OR mink[Tiab] OR minks[Tiab] OR sable[Tiab] OR sables[Tiab] OR gulo[Tiab] OR gulos[Tiab] OR wolverine[Tiab] OR wolverines[Tiab] OR mustela[Tiab] OR llama[Tiab] OR llamas[Tiab] OR alpaca[Tiab] OR alpacas[Tiab] OR camelid[Tiab] OR camelids[Tiab] OR guanaco[Tiab] OR guanacos[Tiab] OR chiroptera[Tiab] OR chiropteras[Tiab] OR bat[Tiab] OR bats[Tiab] OR fox[Tiab] OR foxes[Tiab] OR iguana[Tiab] OR iguanas[Tiab] OR xenopus laevis[Tiab] OR parakeet[Tiab] OR parakeets[Tiab] OR parrot[Tiab] OR parrots[Tiab] OR donkey[Tiab] OR donkeys[Tiab] OR mule[Tiab] OR mules[Tiab] OR zebra[Tiab] OR zebras[Tiab] OR shrew[Tiab] OR shrews[Tiab] OR bison[Tiab] OR bisons[Tiab] OR buffalo[Tiab] OR buffaloes[Tiab] OR deer[Tiab] OR deers[Tiab] OR bear[Tiab] OR bears[Tiab] OR panda[Tiab] OR pandas[Tiab] OR “wild hog”[Tiab] OR “wild boar”[Tiab] OR fitchew[Tiab] OR fitch[Tiab] OR beaver[Tiab] OR beavers[Tiab] OR jerboa[Tiab] OR jerboas[Tiab] OR capybara[Tiab] OR capybaras[Tiab]) NOT medline[sb])


Hooijmans, C. R., Tillema, A., Leenaars, M., Ritskes-Hoitinga, M. (2010). Enhancing search efficiency by means of a search filter for finding all studies on animal experimentation in PubMed. Laboratory Animals. 44(3): 170-175. PMCID: PMC3104815

Live PubMed Searches on Selected Topics from AltBib

  1. General Animal Testing Alternatives
  2. Carcinogenesis
  3. Cytotoxicity
  4. Dermal Toxicity
  5. Ecotoxicity
  6. Genotoxicity

Unscheduled DNA Synthesis Assay

  1. Hepatic/Renal Toxicity
  2. Immunotoxicity / Immunology
  3. Neurotoxicity
  4. Ocular Toxicity
  5. Pharmacokinetic/Mechanistic Studies
  6. Pulmonary Toxicity
  7. Quantitative Structure Activity Relationship (QSAR)
  8. Reproductive and Developmental Toxicity
  9. Animal Welfare