The Five Domains: Animal Welfare and Wellbeing

Animals Animal Welfare Pet Care Posted May 11, 2023
Animal welfare science tells us that the welfare of an animal includes both their physical and mental state.
Ways you can apply the Five Domains for your pets


  • Providing a balanced diet suitable for your pet’s age, breed and health status
  • Using feeding as an opportunity for enrichment e.g. puzzle feeders!
  • Making sure they always have access to clean, fresh water


  • Creating a safe, comfortable and stimulating living space with:
    • Adequate space and freedom of choice
    • Opportunities for your pet to do the things they love, like being active!
    • Private places where they can retreat and a cosy sleeping area
    • Be aware of potential environmental stressors like loud noises, unpleasant smells, temperature variations and other animals


  • Keeping them up to date with preventative health care (e.g. parasite control, vaccinations) and routine veterinary care. Being aware of any signs of illness or injury and seeking veterinary care ASAP if you notice anything out of the ordinary about them!

Behavioural interactions

  • Providing them with opportunities to play, socialise and explore e.g. toys and scratching posts
  • Making sure they have choice and control over what they do and who they spend time with (as long as it’s safe!)
  • Spending quality time with them every day to help strengthen your bond
  • Using reward-based training techniques to reinforce good behaviour and discourage undesirable behaviours

Mental state

  • Protecting them from situations where they might become scared, frustrated or distressed
  • Doing your best to ensure they get all the love, care, understanding and companionship they need to live their healthiest and happiest life!
If you’d like to learn more ways to be the best pet parent, read our education resources here.
What are the Five Domains?

The Five Domains framework is a way of thinking about animal welfare – going beyond just eliminating or minimising negative experiences to achieve a neutral state of animal welfare and encouraging positive experiences in four functional domains, with the idea being an output is the fifth domain, a mental domain.

To determine an animal’s wellbeing the following should be considered:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Environment
  3. Health
  4. Behavioural interactions
  5. Mental State

For every physical experience an animal has, there may also be an effect on their mental wellbeing.

The emotional needs of animals are important as well as their physical needs like food, water, exercise etc.

To ensure all animals have a life worth living, they must have the opportunity to have positive experiences – such as excitement, anticipation, and satisfaction.

Pet owners and those that care for animals need to provide environments that allow and encourage animals to express behaviours that are rewarding. 

Emma Lagoon
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