Owning a Pet in Spain – The essential Guide to keep your fur baby safe on the Costa del Sol

Owning a pet in Spain

Owning a pet in Spain – As you can well imagine, moving to another country takes some serious stamina and research. Being an Expat in a foreign land doesn’t have to be scary or induce anxiety – in retrospect, all you should be feeling is excitement. Spain, or in this case, the Costa del Sol is one of the best destinations for expats and tourists alike across Europe.


Owning a pet in Spain – Best Guide

Before transporting your pets, you want to be well prepared, just like you were when you bought a property on the Costa del Sol in the first place. You will soon find out that owning a pet in Spain has many differences as well.

One item often overlooked before moving to the Costa del Sol is the legalities and rules around bringing over your pet. Dogs specifically obviously have more rules and regulations to follow than cats. This is because many of us don’t walk our cats and they tend to use a litter box for their personal business. However, just so we are clear, bringing over your cat requires paperwork and up to date vaccinations as well.

In this post we are focusing on dogs and what it entails to bring them over to Spain, some of the hazards you can expect and avoid; and legal requirements you must adhere too.

Expat Dogs – What steps to follow for owning a pet in Spain

Before transporting your dog or dogs to their new home on the Costa del Sol, there are regulations and rules that must be followed. New laws were put in place on October 1st, 2004 and include the following:

  • All animals must be identified with either a tattoo or microchip compatible with the standards set forth in ISO-11784 or ISO-11785.
  • If your animal is identified with a non-compatible microchip, you must be able to supply the appropriate reading equipment.
  • Your animals must have veterinarian certificates issued by an official veterinarian and includes identification of the owner, description and origin of the animal, the microchip number including location and date of insertion.
  • Information on the rabies vaccine

The rabies vaccination papers are very important. You must have the information readily available, which includes the type of vaccine. This must be in compliance with the standards of the OIE. The veterinary certificate is only valid for 4 months or until the vaccine’s expiration date, whichever comes first. Animals without the certificate will be denied entry into Spain.

Regulations about the cage or carrier

Owning a pet in Spain means properly planning and transporting your pet within a cage or carrier. You must make sure the cage or carrier the animal is travelling in is labelled with the name, the address in Spain, and your phone number. . The maximum number of animals allowed as a non-commercial import is five per traveller. If you plan on bringing more than five this is considered a commercial import. You can review the conditions about commercial and non-commercial imports by following the links provided.

Pet carriers and owning a pet in spain

Once your pet arrives in Spain, they will need a Spanish Pet passport. The first thing you should do is look for a Spanish vet; most vets on the Costa del Sol do speak English, because of the large number of expats who live here.

Spain’s Dangerous Dogs Classifications – Following rules while owning a pet in Spain

Owning a pet in Spain, there is one thing you will notice about Spain’s dangerous dogs list, and that’s how much it differs from that of the UK’s. Here in Spain, there are specific dogs listed that will seem confusing to dog lovers and owners in the UK. However, not to say you cannot bring one of these dogs to Spain or even adopt one while here. In fact, you can but you must follow very specific rules and laws, or you risk large fines and at worse, having your dog impounded.

The laws in Spain about dogs or dangerous dogs are regulated by each Autonomous Community, but in general the following are considered as dangerous animals and only can be owned under very specific conditions:

  • Reptiles like alligators, crocodiles and poisonous snakes
  • Any animal weighing more than 2 kilos
  • Poisonous fish and mammals weighing over 10 kilos when adults

Beginning in October of 2008, Andalucia residents are forbidden from owning exotic or wild animals as pets. As a resident you have six months to declare pets at your local town hall and deliver them to a designated authorised establishment. This applies to all the animals listed above.

When it coms to dogs and cats, owners on the Costa del Sol are required to register their animals on the Animal Identification Registry of Andalucia. You have three months to register your pets, except those with a dangerous dog, in which case you have one month to get the necessary license.

Dangerous Dogs

  • Breeds and breed crosses classified as potentially dangerous in Spain:
  • Doberman (Andalucia only)
  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Rottweiler
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Tosa Inu
  • Akita Inu

There are dogs with certain characteristics which have also been classified as potentially dangerous. These characteristics are:

  • Strong musculature, powerful or athletic constitution, robustness, agility, vigor and endurance
    Short hair.
  • 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

In order to get licensed, you must register first in your place of residence, which is going to your local town-hall. In order to apply, you must be 18 years or older and have the following:

  • Proof of identity (passport or residence card).
  • Prove that you have no criminal record.
  • Prove that you are of sound mind and capable of looking after one of these animals. There are centres of physical and psychological aptitude where a certificate can be awarded.
  • Provide proof of up to date vaccinations.
  • Proof of microchip.
  • Proof that dog attended training.
  • Finally proof of insurance – you must have a liability of at least €175,000 in Andalucia

Out walking a potentially dangerous dog

In Andalucia when walking a potentially dangerous dog, the dog must be muzzled and lead on a lead of no more than one metre long. You must carry the license and dog registration while out with your dog. It’s better to be safe than sorry as they say. Only one dog may be handled at a time by one person.

In Andalucia, a potentially dangerous dog is banned from entering any areas with children, like leisure or recreational areas.

Keeping your pet safe from harm – Some potential hazards for pets in Spain

Besides the intense heat on the Costa del Sol, which your pet may not be accustomed to there are a few things you need to be made aware of that can potentially harm your dog. On the Costa del Sol and depending on where you walk your dog, there are a few animals that could harm your dog.

One major problem dogs are particularly at risk from are the Pine Processionary Caterpillar. These are found mainly in the woodlands and can be spotted by their namesake. You will notice a long line of caterpillars walking across wooded trails and even urbanisation locations. Dogs can sniff or lick the caterpillars and their tiny hairs can cause irritation.

Dog dangers in Spain

The same creatures can be very harmful to humans if touched. Scorpions, as well are common in Spain and all domestic animals can be stung if too curious.

Another major problem is Sand Flies, which can affect dogs and cause Canine Leishmaniasis. This awful disease can be transmitted between dogs but can easily be prevented. You can purchase a special collar that repels the flies. The flies are most active at dusk and dawn. The symptoms include nose bleeds, fur loss, loss of appetite and weight loss.

Another potential threat, especially if you live in the campo area (in-land on farms etc) is the Montpellier Snake. This snake is the largest snake in Iberia and can grow up to 2m. It is the most common snake in the Mediterranean region and in the south of Spain. Curious dogs that come across this snake can risk a bite, although harmless (but painful) to humans, a smaller dog like a terrier type or even smaller can potentially die from the bite if not immediately cared for.

Welcome to the Costa del Sol

Besides taking care of your pets, and making sure all is in order, you want to be prepared for everything. Moving over to the Costa del Sol is super exciting and you’ve got plenty of sunshine waiting for you. If you need any more advice, please explore our site and top tips. Also do not hesitate to reach out to Location Moves, we are happy to answer any questions you might have about buying property on the Costa del Sol or moving to the Costa del Sol.

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