top of page

Five Domains of animal welfare

The Five Domains model provides a basis for identifying opportunities to improve animal welfare.

By minimising negative experiences and providing animals with an opportunity to engage in species-specific behaviours that are rewarding, we can help shift them into an overall positive welfare state.

This way of assessing animal welfare, the Five Domains model, was developed in 1994. The Five Domains model has been updated throughout the years to incorporate developments in animal welfare science thinking. Over the past years, this model has been used to assess the welfare impacts of pest animal control methods, research procedures and other interventions to make sure animals have minimal negative experiences.

This model explores not only physical health but also the mental status of an animal. It recognises there may be an emotional experience for every physical event, meaning emotional and physical needs are equally important for an animal to provide positive experiences.

The five domains are:

  1. Nutrition —assessing water deprivation, food deprivation and malnutrition

  2. Physical environment —assessing physical and atmospheric challenge

  3. Health —assessing disease, injury and functional impairment

  4. Behavioural interaction —assessing behavioural and/or interactive movement restrictions

  5. Mental health —assessing thirst, hunger, anxiety, fear, pain or distress

The Five Domains model for animal welfare assessment and monitoring. Adapted by Pet Life Ltd.

The Five Domain structure can help encourage animal welfare by looking for:

  • evidence of a variety of positive experiences

  • a way to provide opportunities that result in positive experiences

  • possible negative experiences

  • negative mental experiences from their physical health.


bottom of page