The Five Welfare Needs


  1. Somewhere suitable to live
  2. A proper diet, including fresh water
  3. The ability to express normal behaviour
  4. Any need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  5. Protection from, and treatment of, illness and injury


This is a very important point of interest as I realised after reading in the Veterinary Times that the annual PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report has highlighted a worrying drop in welfare needs awareness. One of the key findings included only 7% of children having heard of these five welfare needs.

The Olfactory Vet

just a point of interest.


Vets need to be diverse individuals, using many different techniques throughout practice to assess conditions, make a diagnosis and consequently a course of action and prognosis.

When doing work experience, I have particularly noticed how vets can effectively put their olfactory organs to use by smelling their way through a problem.

Here are some uses to which a vet can put their nose:

  • bad breath – indicates bad teeth and gums, possible gingivitis, can also suggest diseases such as kidney disease or diabetes
  • anal glands – the pungent, fishy smell of anal glands is a clear indicator for when they need emptying
  • infection – if a wound has a foul odour, it suggests a bacterial infection
  • flatulence – excessive gas/wind can indicate intestinal problems
  • skin condition  – a poorly kept coat will begin to smell, this could be because of conditions such as seborrhoea or cheyletiella
  • welfare – welfare issues could become apparent very quickly through the pungent smell of stale urine, suggesting a problem with care

A Street Cat Named Bob

by James Bowen


I recently read the book ‘A Street Cat Named Bob’ by James Bowen. It has been a number 1 bestseller and is an inspirational story of homeless, recovering drug addict who was brought back to reality by a cat named Bob.

For me, this book really highlighted the psychological impact that animals have on us. When James took Bob busking with him, immediately he drew people’s attention and began giving more generously. The majority of people are delighted to see animals, especially when interacting with their owners, reminded of the emtional relationships we can form with our pets. This is particularly apparent in cats as their forward facing eyes remind us of our own offspring, triggering emotions of affection and protection.

But it was not solely the increased public attention which supported James as he recovered from a life of misery. He felt like he now had a responsibility. In the book he describes Bob as his baby, like a child. The focus of his life turned away from himself and onto caring for Bob. This role of responsibility is important in our lives, helping us to empathise and work harder for those we love. As James proved, we then reap the benefits of working harder and forming relationships.

I really enjoyed this book despite its simplistic language and straight-forward message, it taught me a great deal about the emotional and physical worth of pets and reminded me about the significance of animals in our society, and those across the world.