It is widely acknowledged that animal welfare science is a dynamic and multidisciplinary field. Its application includes scientific and ethical obligations to the physical and mental well-being of animals, and it also has ethical implications in regards to human social and cultural needs.
Ensuring good animal welfare is a core mandate of individual veterinarians as well as the veterinary community at large. This concept is articulated by many veterinary organisations in their Code of Practice, Veterinary Oath/Declaration or other statements of commitment. Such statements centre on the common theme that a veterinarian should be dedicated to the benefit of society, the conservation of animal resources, the relief of suffering of animals, and promoting animal wellbeing. As scientific knowledge in the field of animal welfare expands, and the expectations of society change regarding animal care, the commonly accepted definitions of animal welfare have evolved.
A global example of this comes from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which defines animal welfare in their Terrestrial Animal Health Code. This definition concludes by indicating that animal welfare can be assessed by examining how animals are coping with their living conditions. Further, animals can be said to be in a positive state of welfare if they are healthy, comfortable, well-nourished, safe and able to express innate behaviour, and if they are not suffering from unpleasant states, such as pain, fear, boredom, and distress.