A new animal welfare concept based on allostasis

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Animal welfare is an increasing issue of public concern and debate. As a result, many countries are reconsidering the way animal welfare is embedded in the legislation and rules for housing and care of animals. This requires general agreement of what animal welfare is. Unfortunately, the current science of animal welfare is less scientific than what has been claimed. In our view, it is overly guided by anthropocentric thinking about how animals ought to be handled and neglects the latest concept of physiology: ‘The Allostasis Concept’. Allostasis, which means stability through change, has the potential to replace homeostasis as the core model of physiological regulation. Not constancy or freedoms, but capacity to change is crucial to good physical and mental health and good animal welfare. Therefore, not homeostasis but allostasis is at the basis of our new animal welfare concept. This paper is aimed at a broader scientific discussion of animal welfare that includes knowledge from the latest scientific developments in neurobiology and behavioral physiology, and generates views that are extremely relevant for the animal welfare discussion.