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Pets and their welfare

Advice on buying and keeping pets and how to care for them, plus how animals can be good for you and your family.

Published: 20 January 2021

Last updated: 20 August 2021

The five welfare needs 

If you keep a pet, or run a pet shop or boarding establishment, you must conform to the 5 welfare needs specified below (Animal Welfare Act 2006) : 

  • provide a suitable environment
  • feed a suitable diet
  • allow the animal to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • allow any need it has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

The links below give advice on buying and keeping different types of pets and how to care for them:


RSPCA - pet welfare advice 

Understand your pets daily and longer-term needs, be it a typical companion pet such as dogs and cats, smaller furry rabbits, reptiles, or larger animals such as horses.


RSPCA - buying puppies 

Puppy farming is a lucrative business that cruelly exploits animal welfare. Follow this guide to spot rogue sellers and ensure your new puppy is from a legitimate licensed breeder. 


GOV.UK - animal welfare policies 

Animal welfare is an emotive and ever-changing topic. Read current research, consultations, and discussion on proposed changes to animal welfare.


Animal care and licences

Some animals are classed as wild and have complex needs. Primates are generally not regarded as pets and keeping them in domesticated settings is not encouraged. DEFRA has provided guidance and codes of practice for keeping these animals which can be found on their website,