Pets can mean the world to us and most people consider them part of the family – they offer us companionship, unconditional loyalty, affection, devotion and fill our lives with joy. A dog will be waiting eagerly when you return home from work with a friendly face and a wagging tail. A cat can be a loving companion on those long, cold and often lonely winter evenings, easing the tension from the chaos of everyday life. Rabbits, guinea pigs and many small animals lighten our moods with their endearing behaviour and offer an unbiased ear to share our problems. The owner-pet bond is incredibly strong – some of us even prefer a cudle with our pet than our partner.
As pet owners, we have a legal responsibility to provide our pets with everything they need to stay healthy and happy. You can find lots of helpful information on how to care for your pets in our dedicated pet care section. All the information we provide has been checked by vets and written in collaboration with pet welfare organisations, so you can be confident you’re getting the best advice.
The Five Animal Welfare Needs
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 means all pet owners have a legal duty of care to their pets. Anyone who is cruel to an animal or is found not to be providing the five animal welfare needs, as listed below, can be fined and sent to prison.
Environment: Pets should be given the correct housing according to its size, this includes shelter, space to exercise.
Diet: Pets should be offered the correct type and volume of food to cover all their nutritional needs alongside access to clean, fresh water and a secure, comfortable place to rest.
Behaviour: All pets should be allowed to exhibit normal behaviour patterns and should be provided with the facilities to do so.
Health: All animals should be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease, and given veterinary treatment if they become sick or injured.
Company: Some animals require the company of their own kind, whilst others should be kept on their own.