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Animal health and welfare: equivalent or complementary?
|Author(s) :||B. Nicks & M. Vandenheede|
The concepts of ‘health’ and ‘welfare’, whether applied to humans or animals, are increasingly becoming linked. But are they really indissociable, or even synonymous? Although human health is generally defined as a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, animal health is still considered as simply the absence of disease. However, recent advances in scientific knowledge are forcing us to revise our ideas about the mental complexity of animals and to recognise their ability to feel emotions and to have needs and a degree of consciousness. The precise objective of animal welfare science is to study their mental states and their ability to adapt to domestication. Pending a global application of this concept of health, including mental health, to animals as well as to humans, the idea of welfare remains an important element in addition to traditional health concerns. More generally, this linkage fuels the ethical debate about the ways in which people use animals, prompting society to change its stance on some aspects of the issue.