Your pet's 5 Welfare Needs

Find out more about your pet's 5 welfare needs - the 5 things each pet owner needs to provide for their pet - and the legal responsibility all pet owners have. 

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The Animal Welfare Act 2006

With 9.3 million dogs, 10.3 million cats, 1.1 million rabbits and many other species owned as pets in the UK, it is reassuring to know there are laws protecting their health and happiness.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 places a legal duty of care on their owners or keepers to provide for their animals’ welfare needs including the five welfare needs below.

The DEFRA Codes of Practice support the Animal Welfare Act and give owners and keepers more information on how to meet their requirements.

Find out more about the Animal Welfare legislation here
Read the Code of Practice on Dog Welfare
Read the Code of Practice on Cat Welfare

The 5 Welfare Needs

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.

Find out more about looking after your pet.