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The Five Freedoms Vs The Five Domains


In 1994 Professor David Mellor and Dr Cam Reid proposed a new model as a means

of identifying and grading the severity of different forms of welfare compromise in


The difference between the five freedoms and the 1994 five domains, is that the five domains have helped to distinguish the difference between the physical and the functional factors of animal welfare, bringing things up to date with a more modern approach to animal welfare as compared to when the Five Freedoms were established in the 1960’s. The five domains go into more detail surrounding the mental state of an animal, so for everything physical that happens, it has an effect on the mental state of health, which can also affect its overall welfare. So emotional needs are equally important as physical needs in order for an animal to get the best out of its life. The shift in understanding within the five domains illustrates that even if you minimise negative physical or mental issues, it does not necessarily mean that animals experience a positive state of welfare.

Nutrition It suggests that more is needed, for example to be free of hunger and thirst is a good outcome, however, a more holistic approach should be taken to the overall nutrition of an animal. Therefore, its diet, for example, balanced foods, good quality foods, variety; with dry food, wet food, vegetables, some fruits as appropriate, and access to fresh clean water is essential to a happy state of mind. To have variation and not boredom in the diet. So sound body in the physical, helps toward a sound mind. The converse; so over eating, being too full or bloated can lead to gastrointestinal related discomfort and possible disease, therefore over feeding can have a negative effect on physical and mental health as a dog in pain or one who is unable to get around or run freely due to health restrictions e.g.,overweight or obesity is not a happy dog.

Environment The five freedoms make reference to being free from discomfort. It is important that an animal lives in a state of comfort in order to be happy. Therefore, when looking at what is discomfort for an animal it’s important to be looking at factors like temperature and environment, an animal will feel discomfort if the temperature it is kept in is too hot or too cold. Not only does it lead to short term discomfort, but it can have an effect on their health. When looking at the effects, we can see that in extreme cold an animal can suffer chilling, they can have physical symptoms such as joint pain and suffer stiffness in their muscles. If they are too warm, this can cause overheating leading to excessive panting, loss of body fluids causing dehydration and the inability to regulate their body temperature. This in extreme cases can cause death, for example leaving a dog in a hot car. Also, the affects of being in discomfort for long periods can lead to a poor state of mental health and wellbeing, they can become frustrated, angry and suffer stress.Therefore; we need to look more closely at all the factors in their environment to ensure on-going comfort and a happy mental state.

Health The five freedoms say that an animal should be free from pain injury and disease, the five domains focus on health as a whole. The importance of taking care of an animal from a health point of view is critical to their longevity and their quality of life. Therefore, the presence of an avoidable disease will have huge detrimental effects on an animal. Diseases such as heartworm, kennel cough parvo virus etc. are preventable with good veterinary care over the life of an animal. Regular check ups and booster vaccinations are key to keeping an animal free of disease and therefore critical to prolonging its lifespan. Also factors such as making sure the animal’s teeth are clean and free from dental disease, will ensure the animal can eat properly and is not in pain. Additionally,

animals need to kept in a safe environment where they aren’t susceptible to injuring themselves, for example fencing is adequate to prevent escape onto roads or them becoming lost in countryside. Also, that fences aren’t sharp or likely to cause injury to the animal. Any harmful foods or chemicals should be kept away from where the animal is housed to prevent poisoning. Toys for stimulation should be safe for them to play with. Observing the right overall health conditions suitable to the animal will mean a life free from disease or injury and ensure a long happy life.

Behaviour & Mental State The five freedoms state an animal should be free from fear and distress. The five domains take a wider view towards behaviour and overall mental state. An animal needs to be in an environment suitable to maintain their physical and mental health. For example; chaining a dog will not benefit either their behaviour or mental state. As well as causing physical harm form exposure to sunlight rain, cold and heat, and potential other physical harm from joint and muscle issues due to lack of space or exercise, it is also recognised to affect their behaviour and mental health. They may become anxious and also reactive and defensive as they are unable to move away from potential harm or conversely greet people in a pleasurable manner. Also,they may not be able to adequately rest and not have a safe place to sleep. These factors can lead to frustration, aggression, boredom and inactivity can lead to poor physical shape. This can then lead to fear and anxiety, much like with a human who can’t socialise or get around as they would like to. Animals need to be given the opportunity to have a space of their own. Be able to interact with others, play and explore their surroundings. Make friends and have varied activities that they can partake in every day, so games, walks to different places, smells and sounds. This provides both physical and mental form of exercise which affects behaviour and long term mental health.

Conclusion In conclusion, the five domains take into consideration not just the functional factors affecting the animal’s welfare but also the affect on the mental health and wellbeing of that animal. Therefore, what affects an animal physically can also affect it’s mental state. It asks us to provide opportunities for animals to be engaged in activities or which provide positive experiences. This was not previously looked at in detail by the Five Freedoms. However, we can look at the two models in conjunction with each other when looking at animal welfare in the 21stCentury.

Written By TISOVN Student - Dee Quinn

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