Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Improving veterinary management of Pain and Welfare in Kerala

Improving veterinary management of Pain and Welfare in Kerala

Professor Natalie Waran and her Edinburgh team will be working with veterinary colleagues from the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Science University to address the need for improved education for vets in the area of best practice management of companion animals in the veterinary clinic including superior evidence based methods for improved animal pain recognition at a special workshop taking place on November 24th.  

Over recent years we have increasingly looked to our nation’s veterinarians to ensure that the animals used for food, companionship or research are not only productive and healthy but are also managed humanely. It is becoming increasingly emphasised that international standards of animal welfare are vital not only for animal disease management, but also for sustainable productivity, food safety and public health, and there is an expectation that the veterinary profession take a leading role in promoting respect for animals in a progressive society.

Dogs and humans have been closely associated for many thousands of years with advantages for both species. However with an expanding population of free-roaming dogs especially in certain parts of the world such as India, and concerns about public health issues associated with unmanaged dog populations, there is increasing recognition of the need to control dog populations without causing unnecessary or avoidable pain or suffering. 

Interestingly, pet dog ownership has risen dramatically over recent years. In Europe where there is a long tradition of keeping a wide variety of pet animals, there are now an estimated 100 million dogs and cats kept as pets. Although cats being smaller and easier to manage in more confined homes, are being more frequently kept than dogs, but there are also rises in the keeping of small mammals such as rabbits, mice and rats. With changing lifestyles and an increased number of double income households, there has been a growth in pet ownership particularly in urban areas of India. Increasingly, pets are being looked upon as companions and members of the family rather than for utility such as  guard dogs. A recent survey concluded that there are at least 3.6 million pet dogs in the six major cities alone. Pet owners have started to take an interest in their pets wellbeing leading to an increase in demand for well -qualified small animal veterinarians equipped with the skills and knowledge to ensure the highest standards of animal health and welfare, and an increasing recognition of the importance of properly assessing and managing animal stress and pain.

There has until recently been little research into the best way to tell if an animal is in pain. This is of concern because without reliable ways to recognise and record pain in our pets, there is every chance that they may not be provided with the painkillers they need to help their recovery from illness or operations, and to ensure they do not suffer. Because animals cannot speak, they are reliant upon human carers and their veterinarians for their wellbeing. Increasingly it is becoming recognized that animals being non-verbal, express their experience of painful conditions and procedures through their behaviour, and that there are certain postures, sounds and actions that are extremely reliable when it comes to being able to tell if the animal is in pain.  In humans, pain is what the patient says it is, and we know that the patient’s subjective experience varies from individual to individual. Indeed the negative experience of being in pain doesn’t necessarily relate to the size or seriousness of the wound of illness, nor to the severity of the condition. In animals, because they have no way to speak to us, pain is what we humans say it is. In some cases this has led to concern about whether there exists a wide variation in pain assessment and therefore pain management. For example, recent research into the way that cats and dogs are managed for the same condition, suggest that our pet cats have been under-provisioned. The reasons for the difference between species are probably due to our familiarity with some animals and not with others. Detecting pain behaviour in some species is difficult due to their nature. Prey animals such as sheep and goats are less likely to express their pain in obvious behaviours because this makes them vulnerable to predation. This doesn’t mean they don’t feel painful rather that they have been shaped through evolution to show only subtle responses – often overlooked or ignored by humans. Because good pain management relies on good recognition of pain, it is essential that research to identify reliable indicators of a painful experience be carried out and the results properly disseminated and used in veterinary practice.

A recent development in the field of animal welfare science is the recognition that animals are sentient and therefore have the ability to feel things that are both negative and positive for them. As with humans, their emotional health is central to their well-being and for good welfare scientists have agreed that there should be an absence of strong negative feelings, such as pain, stress and fear, and the presence of positive feelings, like pleasure.

'this recognition of animal emotions, marks a significant change is the way science has traditionally viewed animals – and has led to raised international standards for welfare, increased demand for research addressing the needs of all animals and a need for improved education for future as well as existing veterinarians’. Prof Natalie Waran





Tuesday, 11 November 2014

What is the Value of Horses? World Horse Welfare Annual Conference Thursday 13th November

World Horse Welfare conference  focussing on What is the value of horses?

The 2014 Conference will take place on Thursday, 13 November at the Royal Geographical Society, London.  

The day promises to be a fascinating insight into the real and perceived value of horses. Various notions of the value of horses periodically hit the headlines and spark debate. Is a horse ‘just a horse’? Would the world economy collapse without them? Do governments recognise the billions that the horse sector contributes to their national economies? What price would a parent pay for a pony that changes the life of their child struggling with a disability? Is it worse to treat live horses like rubbish or send them for a price for meat? To date we have secured a varied range of influential presenters to help us explore this fundamental and emotive topic.
JMICAWE Director, Prof Nat Waran is attending by special invitation and participating in the debating panel with topics including contrasting views on the role of horse slaughter in welfare and what is really essential for good horsemanship.  The discussion will be chaired by TV commentator Philip Ghazala and on the panel with Natalie will be Richard Davison, international dressage rider and trainer; Liz Jones, Daily Mail journalist; and Peter Webbon, former chief executive of the Animal Health Trust.

There will   be live streaming of the event on YouTube at  You will also be able to catch up on the presentations and debates through our YouTube channel during the week after the Conference.

Tweet: @HorseCharity


Conference 2014 programme cover

MSc AABAW student wins Dissertation prize

JMICAWE is delighted that one of our MSc AABAW 2013-14 students, Kathryn, has been awarded the UFAW Best Dissertation prize for the Programme.

Kathryn said ‘I feel very honoured to receive the UFAW award. I feel very fortunate that I was able to participate in a ...unique research opportunity with Dr W├╝rbel's research group in Bern, Switzerland. The search for positive facial expressions in rats required dedication and while this project was often challenging, I enjoyed learning to work with the animals and explore this distinctive area of animal welfare science. I was thrilled to find results which indicated that during the positive "tickling" treatment, the rats' ears changed colour, becoming more pink, and the rats also had a more relaxed ear position. However, my findings would not have been possible without the immense support of the research group in Bern. My supervisor, Dr Luca Melotti, provided excellent guidance and advice throughout the project. The AABAW Masters program, and my time in Switzerland working with laboratory rats, have both been incredible experiences. I am very glad to have had this opportunity to learn and grow as a scientist.

Many Congratulations to Kathryn, and thank you to UFAW ( for their support of the MSc programme.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

JMICAWE team strengthens links with Veterinary schools in Asia

This week sees Heather Bacon and Hayley Walters from the JMICAWE returning to Edinburgh after a successful series of Veterinary welfare education events.

Heather started in Lyon, France, continuing the JMICAWE’s existing relationship with the Federation of Vets of Europe and DG Sanco to deliver regional CPD on welfare assessment for the veterinary practitioner. Then it was on to Vietnam to present a paper on captive wildlife welfare at the Association of Asian Zoo and wildlife Veterinarian’s Annual conference, held at the Animals Asia Foundation’s Vietnam bear rescue centre. Heather was also able to visit the Hanoi National University of Agriculture to advise on development of their animal welfare curriculum and deliver a presentation on international veterinary education to a number of lecturers at the university. The HNUA has a strong existing research team focussing on animal welfare projects and is committed to leading the development of animal welfare science within Vietnam. HNAU will be collaborating with JMICAWE to translate welfare education materials into Vietnamese.

Hayley then joined Heather in Nanjing, China to meet with senior clinical staff from the small animal hospital at Nanjing Agricultural University and to discuss proposed collaborative activities, including student exchanges, and integration of pain management and hospital care skills into the curriculum at NJAU. These proposed activities were also supported by the Dean of Nanjing Agricultural University. Heather and Hayley also delivered interactive seminars on animal behaviour, animal welfare and humane education to approximately 150 students at NJAU.

From Nanjing it was on to Qingdao in Nanjing to present at the 5th National China Veterinary conference. The University of Edinburgh signed an MOU with the Chinese Veterinary Medical Association in 2013 and has since been cooperating with them to raise awareness of an evidence-based approach to welfare science, humane education, and integration of animal welfare into the curriculum. This year, experts from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the Humane Slaughter Association were able to present at the CVC conference on a range of animal welfare issues thanks to sponsorship by Animals Asia. The CVMA also launched their first national Animal welfare textbook, sponsored by World Animal Protection (see Blog:

In addition Heather met with members of the Zoetis International Veterinary Collaboration for China at the International Symposium on Veterinary Education. Presentations were delivered by Deans of key Universities in China, the UK and the USA on international cooperation to support veterinary education.

Commenting on the trip, Heather said ‘It’s been a long trip but very worthwhile – it is incredibly encouraging to see the strength of international partnerships between Western veterinary schools and Asian veterinary schools. The rate of development of animal welfare in the Asian Veterinary Profession is very fast and international collaboration is supporting the development of skilled veterinarians and good animal welfare standards.’
Group Photo from the 5th CVC

Heather demonstrating suturing  using suture pads as an alternative to  live animals, at a workshop in Nanjing

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

New Dick Vet Animal Behaviour Society

The JMICAWE team  have been very interested to hear about  a new society  recently launched at the R(D)SVS and look forward to hearing more about their activities

The Dick Vet Animal Behaviour Society is a newly formed society at the Dick Vet. Animal behaviour is an important aspect of veterinary medicine, contributing to animal health, welfare, and the human-animal bond. Good application of animal behaviour can have significant impact on the lives of animals, however, it can often be an overlooked or neglected aspect of animal care.

The ultimate goal for DVABS is to increase awareness and knowledge of animal behaviour. The society is planning to host talks and practical sessions on various topics of animal behaviour, from companion animals to zoo animals and everything in between, as well as distributing information about modern behaviour knowledge and research. The society hopes to increase interest in animal behaviour and promote behaviour as an integral part of veterinary medicine.
  They are also preparing a website with useful links and resources on animal behaviour, and a regular newsletter.
For more information about the society, how to join, and upcoming announcements, please go to their facebook page:



Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Animal welfare education – can MOOCs contribute?

Please see the link below to an article published by our MOOC team here in the JMICAWE.

Jill MacKay, Fritha Langford and Natalie Waran were three of the lecturers on the University of Edinburgh's massive open online course (MOOC) on animal behaviour and welfare that began in July. Here, they assess its global appeal and judge its success.

TO effectively improve animal welfare worldwide, we believe there is a need to use a range of educational tools, including free online courses, to provide credible and accessible education resources to present the case for an evidence-based approach to improving welfare standards. The ‘Animal behaviour and welfare’ MOOC ( was developed through the University of Edinburgh's Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education in partnership with animal welfare researchers at Scotland's Rural College.


Introduction to Animal Welfare textbook now launched in China

The JMICAWE has been involved with the CVMA and working with WAP colleagues towards the development of teaching materials including professional development to ensure that veterinary schools in China are equipped to be able to deliver quality animal welfare education to their veterinary undergraduates. To this end, we are extremely pleased with the news of the release of the Introduction to Animal Welfare textbook by the CVMA during the recent Chinese veterinary Conference.

Heather Bacon- the Centre's Veterinary Animal Welfare Education Manager, who was invited to speak at the book launch said  'Its extremely pleasing to see the progress that has been made with introducing animal welfare science into the new Chinese veterinary curriculum, along with the veterinary profession's growing commitment to ensuring that there are qualified people to teach the subject, as well as provide invaluable comment and information to aid in the improvement of the welfare of animals in China'.

Heather Bacon and Hayley Walters, are now returning from successfully collaborating with the CVMAs animal health and welfare subdivision, in co-organising the animal welfare session that forms part of the annual Chinese veterinary conference. Whilst there they provided the Chinese veterinarians with a translated version of the Animal Welfare MOOC ( Massive Open Online Course) produced and run for the first time earlier this year, attracting more than 33,000 people worldwide.

 Read more about the textbook here:

Tuesday, 28 October 2014


Read  about the latest animal welfare news and activities by our dedicated team

Our Autumn newsletter is now available to download.

Stories include:




download your copy here- and please  forward to friends and colleagues!/fileManager/JMICAWE-Newsletter-issue6.pdf

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Animal welfare and ethics education to zoo experts

The use of animals in zoos around the world is a source of concern in some areas. The modern zoo is committed to education, conservation and research, activities which must be underpinned by robust animal welfare standards.

Recently Heather Bacon of the JMICAWE has contributed to delivering animal welfare and ethics education to zoo experts from around Europe at the annual conference of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, attended by approximately 700 zoo professionals from around Europe. This is the first time the animal welfare session at the conference has been led by an independent academic. In addition Heather presented her ongoing research examining the gaps in knowledge of zoo animal welfare within the zoo community, and regional variations in attitudes.

Heather has worked with EAZA on a number of collaborations including training of Chinese zoo vets to improve welfare standards, a project funded by Animals Asia. She has also been working with the European Commission and FVE since 2011 on delivering regional animal welfare workshops to veterinary practitioners around Europe.


'Zoo animal welfare science is increasingly important for good zoo animal welfare, the research into this area at JMICAWE is supporting the development of improved zoo animal welfare educational initiatives'  Heather Bacon


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The other side of Equine Welfare: Can too much misplaced love lead to obesity and health problems?

When thinking about equine welfare issues, the usual image of neglect or poor condition is  that of the underweight and overworked horse or donkey.  However there is another side to equine health and welfare that may not be so obvious. Studies show that horses are facing disability and life-threatening illnesses in an equine obesity epidemic mirroring the expanding waistlines of humans in ­affluent nations. Are we killing them with kindness?  

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) has organised a series of equine obesity workshops after studies found that up to half the horses and ponies in Scotland are overweight.  Excessive weight can lead to a range of serious diseases that can be disabling and potentially fatal, including crippling hoof disease, hormonal dysfunction and weight-linked Type 2 diabetes. Horse owners are being warned to slim down their animals following growing evidence of an obesity epidemic that is threatening their health.

Professor Nat Waran, of the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal WelfareEducation at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies, said: “There is no doubt the majority of owners want to provide the best for their animals, but sometimes too much misplaced love can lead to welfare problems because it may not be what their horse needs.

Following these studies, two articles in the news have highlighted these issues:


Welfare and health issues of the working equine are often highlighted

But studies show that equines can face  severe health issues if they are overweight  (Photo by Sannse)

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Animal Welfare MOOC: Second Running Coming Soon!

The JMICAWE team have been humbled by the overwhelming positive feedback received about our MOOC course that we ran in July  this year.   The level of engagement was superb and we would like to thank all our hardworking students for making it such a positive and fantastic experience.

We will be running the course again in early February 2015.  If you would like to be part of this you can sign up here for future alerts:


Don't forget we will also soon have options in Mandarin and Spanish

Here are just a few out of the hundreds of positive comments and feedback we received:

Fabulous course, I learned so much and find my discussions about animals are so much more balanced, the scientific approach is a great balance for the ethical and emotional response we have with our animals. It has made me better appreciate the welfare and best practises with my animals.

This course was absolutely fantastic! I have a PhD in Psychology so have spent a lot of time within the University environment, and can honestly say that the calibre of teaching and production in this course is the best I've ever encountered.

Easy and intuitive navigation through course-info. Video's + accompanying notes (with complete text of the video), helped me to better understand the lecture (I'm not a native English speaker), the interactive presentations helped me to put newly gained insights and learning into practice. The enthusiasm displayed by almost all lecturers kept me zoomed in and focussed during the video’s. I especially enjoyed the lecturers that included your own pets/horses in the video. The video of nesting behaviour of a female pig, sometime before giving birth, had a huge impact on my view on pigs and the meat-industry.

As a result of the course, I feel I am better equipped to undertake my animal welfare work. I now have an understanding of the need for evidence-based application and acknowledging the limitation of my knowledge, for further enquiry into research by acknowledged institutions like yours. I hope that some of my colleagues will take advantage of your 2015 course and be similarly enlightened.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

MSc in Applied Animal Welfare and Animal Behaviour: A brilliant start to the new term

Our on-campus MSc programme has got off to a brilliant start this term, and we are delighted to welcome our new and returning students to the new academic year.  We now have 35 students enrolled from all corners of the world. Teaching officially started two weeks ago, following a very successful induction and welcome session.   We are now looking forward to an exciting year ahead.
'We are delighted to welcome our new students to the programme and look forward to helping them learn about Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare over the coming year. 
We’ve already had a great overnight trip to the North of Scotland to visit the Highland Wildlife Park.  It allowed us to all get to know each other a bit better, and also to learn about welfare implications of keeping animals in captivity.  The Highland Wildlife Park arranged for the students to do a Welfare Assessment of certain enclosures and to discuss their recommendations with the keepers – really great experience!

The students have already started their Zoo Research Project at Edinburgh Zoo.  They are working in groups and learning about carrying out behavioural observations of, for example, Gelada Baboons, Gentoo Penguins, Otters and Darwin’s Rhea.'                       Dr Susan Jarvis, Programme Director

The MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare is an on-campus, research-based programme run in collaboration with SRUC. Teaching is mainly based at the Easter Bush campus, a state-of-the-art facility.

For more information about the programme please go to this link:






Monday, 29 September 2014

Take part in Sentience Mosaic online discussion with JMICAWE team members, 6th October


Considering animal sentience in developing countries: Where are we?

Join us on the 6th October 2014 at 11am (UK time)

Heather Bacon, Veterinary Welfare Education and Outreach Manager and Hayley Walters, Anaesthesia and Welfare Veterinary Nurse, The University of Edinburgh will share their views on animal welfare in developing countries. They will also discuss their work with the Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education (JMICAWE). 
For further information  and to sign up please go to this link:
Animal welfare and animal welfare education varies considerably across the globe. In many instances animal welfare and the importance of animal sentience is rarely included in veterinary education. Quite often animals are used inhumanely during veterinary training, and as a result experience pain and compromised welfare. Furthermore, the needs and welfare of animals are sometimes lost in communities that experience high levels of poverty. Amongst such communities, what is currently being done to make animal welfare and the consideration of animal sentience a priority? And what needs to be done in the future? 










Wednesday, 24 September 2014

MSc International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law: An exciting start to the academic year

We are delighted that we have 38 new students from 13 different countries (spread across all 6 habitable continents) who have enrolled on our MSc IAWEL this year. This brings us to over 100 students currently studying with IAWEL.

We officially started on 15th Sept following a very successful induction week for new starters with 5 live sessions for the new students to start to interact with staff and their fellow students.  This week we have lectures and discussions in our core course of International Animal Welfare Science. Students in their second year with us will be starting an elective course, either in Clinical Animal Behaviour or Animals in Research, Testing and Education, and students in their third you are planning and starting their dissertations. It is a very exciting time.
One of our new students writes:
'For me the excitement has been building for months after I first heard about the MSc program from friends here in the US and then reached out to Dr. Langford to see if this was something that I could handle.  As excited as I was, I had some reservations, least of which I've not had any formal education since 1977. All that said, I can't wait to get started because for me, if you're green (learning), you're growing, and I'm a life long learner.  I know that I'll take away valuable information from the University which I'll use in my job as an animal health and welfare officer,  but what I'm really looking forward to is the interaction with each of you as I believe that is where the real learning comes from.
I've got some great stories to share about my job, my travels and the interactions I have with some people around the world that are making a difference when it comes to animal health and welfare, one day at a time, and I hope that you'll feel comfortable sharing your stories and experiences too.  Good luck to us all!'   Bruce Feinberg, Chicago Illinois

The programme is run by the University of Edinburgh, through JMICAWE in partnership with Scotland's Rural College (SRUC). It is aimed at both UK and international graduate students, who study flexible part-time hours, to achieve a Certificate, Diploma or Masters degree. It is the first and only online programme in International Animal Welfare, Ethics & Law.
'We continue to be impressed by the number and calibre of students applying to International Animal Welfare Ethics and Law from all over the world. The breadth of experience and knowledge our students bring into the programme, make them one another’s key resource to facilitate learning, alongside high quality teaching from the University of Edinburgh, SRUC and our guest experts from around the world of course!' Dr Fritha Langford,  Programme Director  

First live lecture of year for IAWEL students in our virtual classroom (names of students listed on left removed for privacy)