IAHAIO international guidelines on care, training and welfare requirements for small animals in animal-assisted interventions


Development of the guidelines

These guidelines provide best practice guidance for meeting the care, training and welfare requirements of small animals involved in delivering animal-assisted interventions. They apply to small animals of different species that may be included in visiting and residential programmes.

The guidelines were developed by an international task force of IAHAIO members and individual experts and relevant organizations working between 2018 and 2021. They are based on a review of evidence of current best practices and research.


The guidelines include:

  • General guidelines applying to both visiting and residential¬† programs
  • Specific points relating to the care and welfare of small animals in visiting programs
  • Specific points relating to the care and welfare of small animals in residential programs
  • Additional points regarding specific species including cats, fish, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs and dogs

Use of the guidelines

The recommendation is that these guidelines are adopted and implemented in practice by everyone that incorporates small animals in programmes that benefit people. It is acknowledged that knowledge can change over time as research and practice expands and it is intended that this document be reviewed every two years and adjusted, if required. National guidelines or profession-specific competencies for small animals as part of human services that exist in individual countries must be followed in care, welfare, training and handling procedures.

Download the guidelines here.