Essential Animal Information for Pets in Spain
An overview of the rules of pet ownership in Spain and what to do about an animal lost or found on the Costa Blanca.
In this section:
Owning a Dog or Cat in Spain
Animal Organisations in Spain
Regulated Animals in Spain
Pets (animales domésticos or mascotas) are defined as animals kept for company.
General Rules for Pet Owners in Spain
All domestic pets in Spain must be identified by microchip or by a clearly readable tattoo. The tattoo will only be accepted as a means of identification until 3 July 2011.
Vaccination against rabies is compulsory. It is also advisable to have dogs vaccinated against other diseases such as distemper and hardpad. Cats should be immunised against feline gastro enteritis and typhus.
There is no law against dogs fouling in public places, except in Granada, however people are becoming increasingly sensitive about it and there are specific rules within certain places, such as urban parks.
Dogs should be kept on a lead in public places.
By law, dogs travelling in a car must be kept away from the driver or restrained.
Generally, dogs are permitted on trains. Sometimes they may need to be contained in a pet carrier, or they may have to be muzzled. Dogs normally travel at half the fare of a 2nd class ticket; this charge is payable directly to the conductor.
Owning a Dog or Cat in Spain
The standard of Spanish vets is considered to be very high.
All dogs should be given the rabies vaccination and annual rabies booster injections. Other vaccinations are not obligatory, but are strongly recommended. They are the standard vaccinations (and annual booster injection) against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza and Leptospirosis. Some kennels request that a dog be vaccinated for kennel cough (Bordetella Bronchiseptica).
These are the standard vaccinations prepared and given by a vet. The vet records the dose in the dogs health record.
Tick and flea treatments and worming
Ticks and fleas are seasonal and vary depending on the area. Spot-off treatments can be carried out monthly and these are available at vets.
Buying & Owning a Pet
The seller of a domestic animal has to provide the following documents:
Sale certificate (Contrato de compra-venta)
Microchip number and identity card (Formulario de identificación canina)
For an example: Click here
Vaccination book signed by the vet.
Original pedigree document (if applicable)
The new owner of the pet has to:
Vaccinate the animal against rabies when the animal is six months old and keep up to date with rabies booster injections
Register the animal at the local municipality (ayuntamiento)
There are further regulations for dogs classed as “potentially dangerous”
Animal Organisations in Spain
In the event of losing your pet or finding a lost pet, there are a number of things that can be done.
Found a pet in Spain?:
Take the animal to a local vet who will check if it is identified
If it is not identified the finder may keep it or contact the SPA (Sociedad Protectora de Animals) to ask for help.
The last option is to take the animal to the public kennels (Perrera Municipals), where, if nobody wants it and it is unclaimed within 13 days, it will be euthanised.
Lost a pet in Spain?:
Contact local vets and give the pet’s identification number
Contact the Archivo de Identificación del Colegio de Veterinarios:
Tel: 934 189 294 (office hours)
Tel: 902 170 401 (24 hour service)
Report the animal missing at the local police station, and provide a photograph and description of the pet
Contact SPA (Sociedad Protectora de Animals) to ask for help
Use the search box on the website La Coordinadora, which is specifically for Catalonia but which provides the ability to search country-wide: Click here (in Spanish)
Animal abuse organisations
Awareness of animal abuse is growing, and even though regulations are not consistent throughout the country, organisations are claiming animal rights and there have been cases of people being fined for abusing animals.
There are many organisations that take care of animals in Spain. For a comprehensive list of the various SPAs and other organisations with contact information and web-links see the Protection des Animaux website.
Website EncuentraMascota.com (in English) brings together information on the shelters to facilitate the adoption of animals in Spain. It also has practical information on animal health and access to the pet lost and found database.
For all the shelters in Spain from EncuentraMascota: Click here
Regulated Animals in Spain
There are restrictions on owning certain breeds of dog and potentially dangerous animals in Spain. Laws are regulated by the Autonomous Communities (Comunidades Autónomas), which impose a wide variety of rules and regulations within the country.
In general, the following are considered as dangerous animals and owned under specific conditions:
Wild animals including: reptiles (alligators, crocodiles and poisonous snakes), any wild animal weighing over two kilograms, poisonous fish and mammals weighing over 10 Kg when adult.
Note: From October 2008, residents in Andalucía are forbidden from owning exotic or wild animals as pets. Residents have six months to declare their pets at the local town hall and deliver them to the designated authorised establishment. This applied to:
Crocodiles, caimans, poisonous amphibians and fish, snakes, spiders and insects
All species of reptile that weigh over 2 kilograms when fully-grown
All primates and wild mammal species that weigh more than 10 kilograms as adults (for carnivores this is limit is 5 kilograms)
All dog, cat and ferret owners in Andalucía are required to register their animals on the Animal Identification Registry of Andalucía (Registro Andaluz de Identificación Animal, RAIA). Owners have three months to register their pets, except for those with a potentially dangerous breed of dog who have one month to obtain the necessary licence.
For more information on the restrictions in Andalucía from the Junta de Andalucía: Click here (in Spanish)
Junta de Andalucia
At: Plaza Nueva 4, 41071 Seville
Tel: 955 041 000
Any person owning a potentially dangerous dog (perros potencialmente peligrosos) in Spain must have an appropriate licence (by law of article 3 of the Royal Decree 287/2002, of 22 of March 2002) and the dog must be registered with the municipality. Handlers and walkers of dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs must also be licenced (article 1, 2 of Law 50/1999, of December 1999). A licence is valid for five years.
Potentially dangerous dog are identified as being in one of three categories:
1) Breeds and breed crosses classified as potentially dangerous:
Doberman (Andalucia only)
Pit Bull Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
American Staffordshire Terrier
2) Dogs with certain characteristics of these breeds are also classified as potentially dangerous. The characteristics are:
Strong musculature, powerful or athletic constitution, robustness, agility, vigor and endurance
Deep chest (60 to 80 cm), height of over 50 cm and a weight over 20 Kg
Big, square, head, with a wide skull and strong jaws
Broad, short and muscled neck.
Straight, parallel forelegs and muscular hindquarters, relatively long back legs standing at an angle
3) Dogs that have a track record of aggression to humans and other animals must also be licenced and registered.
Full details of the act: Click here (in Spanish)
Dog owner licence application
The licence application is made to the municipality of the place of residence. The applicant must take the following (an applicant must be over 18 years):
Proof of identity (passport or residence card)
Proof of having no criminal convictions
Proof of being mentally and physically capable of looking after one of these animals. (There are centres test of physical and psychological aptitude can be done and a certificate issued. The certificate must have been issued in the previous 12 months)
An insurance contract for the dog with a liability of at least €120,000 (€175,000 in Andalucia)
Proof of fully up-to-date vaccinations
Proof of identification by microchip
Proof that the dog is or has attended training school
Once accepted, a licence (the licencia para tener perros potencialmente peligrosos) is issued.
For an example of the Madrid Municipality licence application form: Click here (PDF in Spanish)
Potentially dangerous dogs must be registered with the municipal registry for dangerous dogs (Registro Municipal de Perros Potencialmente Peligrosos). Registration of the dog must be renewed annually.
Proof of identification and microchip number’s certificate
Certificate from the vet stating that the dog is in good health
Walking a potentially dangerous dog
Dog owners or handlers must carry the licence and dog registration document when out with the dog. The dog must be muzzled and on a lead of no more than two metres long (one metre in Andalucia). Only one dog may be handled per person. In Andalucia, dangerous animals are banned from entering children’s leisure or recreational areas.
Comprehensive information is available from the Spanish Embassy in Washington DC: Click here
Note: In most municipalities, only one dog may be registered to one person. The property where the dogs are kept must be enclosed by a two metre high barrier.
Further information on dog licences and regulations is available from the CIAA (Centro Integral de Acogida de Animales): Click here (in Spanish)