This article provides information related to training resources for veterinarians on Animal Welfare located on the World Animal Protection's website., along with recent WSAVA guidelines and publications.
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A global survey of companion animal veterinary practitioners on animal welfare teaching – Focus on undergraduate and continuing education, and clients’ sources of information
35 modules on a range of animal welfare topics
See Module 14 for Companion animal info
Five Animal Welfare Needs
The Five Animal Welfare Needs are the framework we recommend for use in these guidelines. This is because they are relatively simple and easy to understand and use, and unlike the Five Freedoms they are achievable and support positive welfare states.
The Five Animal Welfare Needs are:
1. The need for a suitable environment. The environment of the dog and cat, whether at home or in the clinic, needs to provide protection and comfort with a quiet resting place, regular toileting facilities, and provision for movement and exercise in hygienic surrounds.
2. The need for a suitable diet. The diet of dogs and cats should provide for their physiological and behavioural needs. Adequate nutrition can be measured using weight change and/or body/muscle condition scores, and appropriate food and water intake. Note that welfare may be poor at both extremes; if insufficient food is consumed leading to malnutrition and if excess food is consumed leading to obesity.
3. The need to be housed with, or apart, from other animals. Some of our companion animals have evolved the behaviours required to live in social groups, others to live semi-solitary lifestyles. Dogs may live happily with another dog, but this should be assessed on an individual basis depending on their socialisation, genetics and prior experience. Dogs that live alone will likely need more contact with humans. Likewise, cats may live with another cat, but this can also lead to disputes, fights and negative welfare, especially if the cats are not introduced together as kittens.
4. The need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns. This includes the display of normal or species-typical behaviours such as toileting, hiding, and interacting with humans or other animals. If an animal is confined to a small cage or chained in a small enclosure this will represent a restriction on its ability to explore the environment and exercise.
5. The need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease. Absence of injuries such as cuts or abrasions, or from infectious, parasitic or other disease. When pain is present, for example in older animals with arthritis, then adequate pain relief should be provided.
- freedom from hunger and thirst;
- freedom from discomfort;
- freedom from pain, injury, and disease;
- freedom to express normal and natural behavior (e.g. accommodating for a chicken’s instinct to roost);
- freedom from fear and distress.
Every pet owner must provide for the following needs of their pets:
- Health – Protection from pain, injury, suffering and disease and treated if they become ill or injured.
- Behaviour – the ability to behave naturally for their species eg. Play, run, dig, jump, fly etc.
- Companionship – to be housed with, or apart from, other animals as appropriate for the species. i.e. company of their own kind for sociable species like rabbits or guinea pigs, or to be housed alone for solitary species like hamsters.
- Diet – a suitable diet. This can include feeding appropriately for the pet’s life stage and feeding a suitable amount to prevent obesity or malnourishment, as well as access to fresh clean water.
- Environment – a suitable environment. This should include the right type of home with a comfortable place to rest and hide as well as space to exercise and explore.
The needs of each type of pet are very different and it is important owners know what these needs are, and how to meet them. Researching carefully before purchase can help owners understand what they will need to provide.
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