Concepts in animal welfare

Below you will find three separate training categories: 

  • Concepts in Animal Welfare
  • Standards of Excellence in Animal Welfare: a guide for vet schools
  • First Concepts in Animal Welfare: a guide for teachers

Who is this training useful for?

Concepts in Animal Welfare was designed for veterinary lecturers, but it can also be used as a self-directed learning tool for anyone with an interest in animal welfare.

There are a few modules that require advanced biological knowledge, but the majority can be accessed by anyone.

The guide for vet schools provides a set of aspirational criteria for a vet school to demonstrate that animal welfare is not just taught in the lecture hall, but embedded throughout the school – across the ethos and behaviours of staff and students alike.

The guide for teachers demonstrates how the subject of animal welfare can be taught in schools for ages 6-16, either as stand alone subjects, or as mechanisms for applying other skills required through national curriculums.

The guide also describes different classroom techniques and encourages different skill sets within the pupils themselves to explore this fascinating subject.

Concepts in Animal Welfare

Dog at vaccination drive in Sierra Leone - World Animal Protection

Why is CAW training so important for vets?

At World Animal Protection, we work proactively with people, seeking to move them to improve the welfare of animals and alleviate animal suffering.

We have created this tool to enable veterinary teaching staff to effortlessly include animal welfare within their taught curriculum, and ultimately to improve both people’s experience of delivering and animals’ experience of receiving veterinary care. It is widely accepted that the veterinary curriculum is overloaded with content, so adding a new subject is a challenge.

However, animal welfare science is gaining ever-wider acceptance and credibility, and veterinary practitioners worldwide are beginning to feel the pressure of expectation to be at the forefront of ensuring good welfare for the animals in their care. The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has recommended that animal welfare is a ‘Day 1 Competency’ and should therefore become a fundamental pillar in veterinary training, ensuring that all graduating vets the world over qualify with a sound understanding of the subject.

Therefore, despite a crowded curriculum, animal welfare should be embedded within the taught content of veterinary training. This can be achieved in a number of ways, ranging from introducing it as a standalone subject to a fully integrated one, taught within other traditional elements of the veterinary course.

We have designed this edition of Concepts in Animal Welfare to support the inclusion of animal welfare in whatever format is most appropriate for individual vet schools.

Downloadable training documents

The user guide explains the structure of the training and how to use it.

User guide

Standards of Excellence in Animal Welfare: A guide for vet schools

World Animal Protection staff holding piglet - Animals in farming

What does the guide for vet schools include?

During the last decade, research indicates that as veterinary students progress through veterinary education they become less sentimental, altruistic, and empathic.

Their belief in animal sentience and the importance of the human-animal bond also decreases.

In addition, students are less inclined to provide post-operative pain relief to patients as they pass through their education.

Many veterinary schools across the world include some form of teaching on animal welfare as a discipline.  However, there is an unwritten curriculum of other experiences that students come into contact with, that can undermine excellent teaching in the subject.

If we accept that attitudes towards animals are largely culturally transmitted in the context of veterinary education – as is thought to be the case in human medicine education – then more needs to be done beyond curriculum change to support both staff and graduating vets.

Within human medicine education there is increasing focus on establishing a ‘culture of care’ in order to tackle some of the problematic issues highlighted above.

We propose that a system for recognising excellence in animal welfare should be implemented globally within veterinary education and we created these guidelines with the intention of catalysing this process.

Download guide for vet schools

First Concepts in Animal Welfare: A guide for teachers

Two rescued baby bears - World Animal Protection