It is doubtful that the scientific community will ever arrive at a consensus definition for distress as it may be attempted for the purposes of improving animal welfare in and across the myriad of research, testing and teaching facilities in the United States and throughout the minuet of protocols that exist for animals. The stakeholders in this attempt can however address most causes of physiologic distress by instituting time-honored veterinary and agrarian approaches to animal surveillance. In this manner, the majority of individuals who participate in responsible and humane animal care might be assuaged in that a condition of maximum wellness exists for most animal research subjects. This author proposes a fact-based individualized and systematic approach to screening animals for homeostatic disequilibrium. In the clinical veterinary world, this process is called a SOAP (subjective, objective, assessment, plan)- process. The SOAP process can reasonably be implemented at the individual and group level.
Hampshire, V., "The Role of Clinical Veterinary Medicine in the Assessment and Treatment of Laboratory Animal Distress" (2009). Animal Science, Veterinary Medicine, and Zoology. Paper 10.