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.