Are you giving your pet their legal ‘five freedoms’?

Are you meeting your legal obligations when it comes to your dog? (Picture: Getty)

You might think you’re the best animal owner in the world, but as well as being kind to your pet did you know that you’re legally required to provide them with a set ‘five freedoms’?

For animal campaign group PETA, pet ownership is selfish and should never have happened as it causes suffering to animals, including depriving them of the opportunity to engage in natural behaviour.

A YouGov poll in 2017 found that the majority of people think it’s ethically acceptable to keep animals as pets, with 83% saying it was acceptable compared to just 7% who were against it and 10% who said they didn’t know.


But while everyone might have an opinion on whether it’s ethically right or wrong to keep an animal in your home, there are also legal requirements on those who do.

Speaking on Yahoo UK’s podcast Britain Is a Nation Of…, Nat Ingham, canine behaviourist and training manager at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, says: “The Animal Welfare Act states that there are five freedom that people need to meet when you’re looking after animals, whether they’re pets or farm animals.”

Those five freedoms are:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst - by ready access to fresh water and diet

  • Freedom from discomfort - by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.

  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease

  • Freedom to express normal behaviour

  • From from fear and distress

But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s black and white, says Nat.

“Natural behaviour can be lovely behaviour as well as slightly more tricky complicated behaviour. I think it’s about meeting animals’ needs.

“That’s meeting their physical exercise so with dogs making sure that they are getting the physical exercise that they need.

“Whether that’s walks for dogs that are physically fit enough to go on walks or some people may take them to hydrotherapy if they’re slightly older and arthritic and find walking harder.

Listen to the full episode of Britain is a Nation of... below

“It’s also about meeting their mental requirements and that mental stimulation, whether that’s through toy play or search games for all sorts of animals,” adds Nat.

“A lot of people just feed their cat from one bowl and just give them their food and that’s it, but if you think cats in the wild go out hunting and actually look for their food so splitting up their food portions and moving it round so it’s in different places around the house can give them a really good outlet for that. It allows them to express their natural behaviour in a different way.”

This survey was made possible by YouGov’s panel of 6 million respondents. Join the trend and share your opinions with the world today.