Spinner dolphins in Hawaii

Concepts in animal welfare

Improve your animal welfare knowledge – or teach your school or vet school students – through the training resources we produced between 1989 - 2016.
Image credit: World Animal Protection / Rachel Ceretto

We will no longer be updating this training, but the core concepts still apply. Happy learning!

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.

Dog at vaccination drive in Sierra Leone 2017

Concepts in Animal Welfare

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

Concepts in Animal Welfare (CAW) user guide

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

User guide

Module 1
Module 2
Module 3
Module 4
Module 5
Module 6
Module 7
Module 8
Module 9
Module 10
Module 11
Module 12
Module 13
Module 14
Module 15
Module 16
Module 17
Module 18
Module 19
Module 20
Module 21
Module 22
Module 23
Module 24
Module 25
Module 26
Module 27
Module 28
Module 29
Module 30
Module 31
Module 32
Module 33
Module 34
Module 35
Staff member holding a piglet

Standards of Excellence in Animal Welfare

A guide for vet schools

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

Rescued bear cubs

First Concepts in Animal Welfare

guide for teachers

What does the guide for teachers include?

First Concepts in Animal Welfare was an education programme that we ran until 2016. The guide for teachers of 6-16 year olds includes a detailed introduction into the subject and the teaching styles that complement animal welfare education.

It provides detail on pedagogy and how to cater for different learning styles in your lessons. It also provides two sections that outline a suggested curriculum.

Section one defines major animal welfare issues and key elements associated with them. We have also listed some resources from our partners – some of which might no longer be available.

We have also given topics within our suggested syllabus a complexity rating. This reflects the level of preparation required to deliver a lesson on a subject, and whether the students you’re teaching should be older or have an advanced learning ability.

Subjects are also rated as more complex if they are likely to involve the use of disturbing imagery.

Section two lists the same issues as section one but instead focuses on how they relate to the delivery of curriculum areas such as science and maths. The topic of animal welfare is a versatile one.

Once you are comfortable with a subject matter, you may find that you use it in a variety of curriculum areas.

Download guide for teachers


Our educational resources, activities, quizzes and other materials will develop an understanding of the importance of animals

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