Animal welfare is not currently regulated by a single, comprehensive international law instrument. This article considers prevailing frameworks in international law that address animal welfare in some way, but by themselves do not meet the hallmarks of an effective global protection regime, including comprehensiveness and enforceability. Emerging frameworks that might fill the gap in global animal welfare protection include a universal declaration on animal welfare, the entrenchment of World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) animal health standards and an international convention for the protection of animal welfare. While the prospects of any of these models succeeding in the short term are uncertain at best, the challenge now is to think carefully about what legal form an international framework for animal protection might take.