Welfare and interactions between humans and companion animals

Paul Koene*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Welfare of pets can be assessed on the basis of three distinct but overlapping domains: health and physiological functioning (body), affective state (mind), and normal development, behavior, and temperament, including social functioning (nature). Behavioral assessment is used to assess each of these domains. Behavior provides information about pets’ health, needs, preferences, internal states and interaction with their environment. Several types of assessments of group or individual welfare may be used for varying situations, i.e. home, veterinary practice or shelter. Evidence-based assessment support management or treatment decisions that enhance the welfare of pets. Human-companion animal interactions occur in many contexts and on many levels. Positive and negative aspects of the interactions influence welfare and health of both human and companion animals in different and several ways. Many reviews of aspects of the interactions are described in literature with a focus on dogs and some on cats and often almost no information of other species in formal literature is found (sometimes in grey literature). The reviews are not yet very conclusive about effects of interactions mainly caused by biased and mostly correlational methodology of studying the interactions. For this review is chosen to focus on the existing frameworks of interactions and ameliorating the methodology of studying interactions. Human-Companion Animal Interactions (HCAI) can take several outcomes of which only some are clearly proven using sound scientific methods, such as incidences of increased human health and welfare. On the other hand, HCAI have also negative outcomes and can cause hospital visits after bites, traffic accidents and environmental damage by stray or feral former-companion animals. For this review is chosen to focus on the existing frameworks of human-companion animal interactions and ameliorating the methodology of studying interactions. Finally, emphasis is on the ethological and veterinary practice of helping/interacting with companion animals and focus on the suitability of species as a companion animal.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Animal Behavior
EditorsJae Chun Choe
ISBN (Electronic)9780128132517
ISBN (Print)9780128132524
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Animal behavior
  • Animal welfare
  • Behavioral assessment
  • Companion animal
  • Exotic pet
  • Five freedoms
  • Human-companion animal interaction
  • Pet animal
  • Pet Owner
  • Proxy assessment
  • Veterinary practice
  • Welfare assessment
  • Welfare Quality
  • Welfare status


Dive into the research topics of 'Welfare and interactions between humans and companion animals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this