EU advises a period of darkness every day for breeding cats and dogs

The Commission of the European Union commissioned one of their agencies, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to produce a scientific report on the welfare of cats and dogs in commercial breeding premises destined for sport, hunting and as companion animals.

They addressed several issues including the housing of the cats and dogs and ‘convenience surgeries’. I’ll report of these in this article.

Breeding male cat in darkness as recommended by the EFSA to ensure that they maintain their circadian rhythm
Breeding male cat in darkness as recommended by the EFSA to ensure that they maintain their circadian rhythm. The image is free to use under an unconditional Creative Commons license. Click on the image to see it full size and right click on this image to download it as per the menu.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Housing

Light requirements: Its intensity, wavelength and duration are important in regulating the animals’ ‘a period of darkness every day’.

Period of darkness: the research concluded that ‘ a period of darkness every day is recommended to maintain the circadian rhythm.’ Further research is needed to reveal the ‘optimal dark and light duration’ and the ‘optimal light intensity’.

Convenience operations

The EFSA came to this conclusion about declawing: ‘Declawing (onychectomy) in cats consists of the removal of the distal phalanx and is performed in cats to prevent unwanted scratching. It was concluded that scratching is a natural behaviour of cats and the practice of declawing impairs this natural behaviour and has detrimental effects on the welfare of cats. Therefore, declawing in cats should not be performed, unless necessary for the health of the animals.’

One tail docking: ‘ is a painful procedure that should not be permitted (unless necessary for the health of the animals) as it causes acute and chronic detrimental effects on dog welfare. Dogs that have been tail docked may have problems in balancing and in communicating since the tail is a means of balance and communication.’ Plus it may have an impact later in life caused by the ‘the development of traumatic neuromas’.

On dog ear cropping: ‘ear cropping in dogs has detrimental effects on their welfare’. It causes ‘pain that may last for weeks, with the risk for puppies to be removed from the group, thus experience isolation stress.’

One surgical debarking: ‘ an invasive procedure that can have complications and affect dog communication with humans and other dogs.’

Both debarking and ear cropping ‘not be performed, unless necessary for the health of the animals.’

Comment: these conclusions have been repeated many times before in many articles. They are well-known but it is always welcome to have an important authority arrive at good animal welfare recommendations. It is the first time I have seen a reference to providing standard and routine periods of darkness as a necessity in breeding establishments.

P.S. I am against all forms of cat and dog breeding no matter what the purpose. The world does not need more cats and dogs. We need more compassion for animals and more homes for unwanted companion animals.

Citation: Scientific and technical assistance on welfare aspects related to housing and health of cats and dogs in commercial breeding establishments. Authors: Mette S Herskin et al. Link: https://doi.org/10.2903/j.efsa.2023.8213.

RELATED: Advanced lighting design and control can improve shelter cat welfare

The EFSA

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is an agency of the European Union established in 2002. Its primary role is to provide impartial scientific advice to risk managers and communicate risks associated with the food chain. One of its key areas of focus is assessing novel foods. These are foods that were not significantly consumed before May 1997 and include new foods, substances, and technologies related to food production. For instance, chia seeds, algae-based foods, and baobab fruit fall into this category. EFSA evaluates their safety, composition, and potential allergenicity.

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