Document type: News bulletin from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
Preview: To improve the welfare of cats and dogs in commercial breeding establishments, EFSA has recommended that the permanent use of boxes, cages or crates should be avoided. EFSA's views were today published as part of a new scientific report intended to underpin possible future legislative measures for the protection of cats and dogs kept in commercial breeding facilities for sport, hunting or companionship.
The report also includes recommendations on heat stress, housing conditions, cosmetic and convenience surgical practices, and health issues related to breeding in commercial establishments.
For the majority of adult cats, a temperature of between 15 and 26° C precludes temperature stress, while for adult breeding dogs, there is not sufficient available scientific evidence to determine this sort of general temperature range. EFSA has evaluated certain cosmetic and convenience surgery practices (declawing of cats, and ear cropping, tail docking and vocal cord resection - known as devocalization - in dogs) and concluded that they should not be performed unless absolutely necessary for the animal's health.
Bitches and queens should not be used for breeding until they are fully mature, even if they have already reached sexual maturity (puberty). The frequency of pregnancies should be controlled, but further research is needed to define a minimum period between litters and whelping. Unspayed female cats over six years of age, and female dogs over eight years of age, should be examined by a veterinarian to check their general health and physical condition. Other recommendations for dogs include the need for a daily period of darkness. Breeding dogs should have a space in which to socialize and exercise regularly, preferably outdoors. There is insufficient evidence to determine whether socialization and exercise are necessary on a daily basis.
Scientific advice for legislators
Following a request from the European Commission (EC) in April, EFSA assessed whether there was scientific evidence to validate the recommendations made by a voluntary initiative group of the European animal welfare platform. Until now, the protection of cats and dogs has not been the subject of detailed regulation in EU legislation. EFSA's scientific report provides guidance on housing, health considerations and painful procedures, and indicates areas where evidence is lacking. EU animal welfare draft legislation is expected in 2023. To support this legislative process, EFSA has published assessments on the welfare of farmed pigs, broilers and laying hens, calves, ducks, geese and quail, dairy cows and other animals during transport.
Links to scientific documents
Scientific and technical assistance on welfare aspects related to the housing and health of cats and dogs in commercial breeding establishments
Plain language summary | Scientific Report