When you get a new puppy or kitten, no one tells you that your new pet has five main welfare needs that need to be met. They provide a framework for caring for dogs, cats, and other pets. Read on to find out what they are, how many pet owners know them, and why they matter to you.
The Five Freedoms
The Five Freedoms were originally defined by the UK’s Farm Animal Welfare Council in the 1960s and were subsequently updated. They are now understood to apply to the welfare of all animals, not just livestock. The Five Freedoms are as follows.
  • Freedom from hunger and thirst by ready access to water and a diet to maintain health and vigor
  • Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment
  • Freedom from pain, injury, and disease by prevention or rapid diagnoses and treatment
  • Freedom to express normal behavior by providing proficient space, proper facilities, and appropriate company of the animal’s own kind
  • Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment, which avoid mental suffering
The Five Freedoms tell us our pets have 5 welfare needs- diet, environment, health, companionship, and behavior.
Knowing About the Five Freedoms
How many pet owners know about these needs? Since 2011, the PDSA in the United Kingdom has released its annual PAW report on the welfare of pets. The 2018 report tells that most people were able to identify four out of the five needs when shown a list.
  • 87% identified the need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury, and disease
  • 85% identified the need to live in a sustainable environment
  • 85% identified the need for a suitable diet
  • 67% identified the need to exhibit normal behavior patterns
  • Only 18% identified the need to be housed with or apart from other animals
  • Only 13% of pet owners were able to correctly identify all five of the animal’s needs
Unfortunately, these needs are not as well known as they should be. And 29% of people thought that human company was one of the welfare needs.
Most people love their pets wholeheartedly, but it is also important to make sure you understand their basic needs in order to give them the best life possible. You can find more information on caring for animals at websites like the ASPCA.