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Pet Care in the UK

You don’t want to part from the family dog when moving? No problem! Our guide to keeping pets in the UK aims to explain important import restrictions, as well as the legal obligations of pet owners. We also provide expats with advice and resources for looking after their beloved pets in the UK.
If you see such signs in a UK park, you’d better get ready to scoop the poop – or you may be fined.

Your responsibilities don’t stop once you have successfully brought your four-legged companion to the UK. In fact, all pet owners have certain legal obligations.

Not Just for Christmas: Animal Responsibility

First of all, the Animal Welfare Acts that were passed for England, Scotland and Wales in 2006 make all owners assume responsibility for the well-being of their pets. The cruel mistreatment of animals can result in heavy fines and even in prison sentences.

Furthermore, you are responsible for your pet’s behavior in public, too, particularly as a dog owner. If you keep a dog in the UK, this means:

  • Always keep your dog under control. You should ensure that it does not injure or disturb other animals or people.
  • You may have to put your dog on a leash in some areas. Pay attention to signs put up by the Local Council, for instance, in public parks, to see if this is the case.
  • You have to clean up after your dog. Make sure to carry a “poop scooper” with you. You may have to pay a fine of up to 80 GBP if you refuse to get rid of dog fouling.
  • You must keep your dog from entering certain areas at all, especially farmland. Never put your dog in the same field as farm animals. British farmers are allowed to shoot it if they are genuinely worried about their livestock’s safety.
  • You are only allowed to walk a specified maximum number of dogs at the same time, depending on local restrictions.

Unconditional Love: Day-to-Day Pet Care

When looking for rental accommodation in the UK, you should always ask if pets are included in the tenancy agreement. Even though the British in general are very animal-friendly people, the landlord can impose restrictions on your keeping a pet in the house. However, in many cases, it is not that difficult to find a rental in your new city of residence that will gladly accept your pets.

It is also recommended to register your pet after arriving in the UK and getting a local contact address. In this way, your pet will be easier to find if it should be stolen or get lost. Organizations like Petlog or the National Pet Register can help to reunite you with a missing pet. As of April 2016, it is now compulsory for all dogs to be micro chipped and they will therefore automatically be added to a register.

Food for dogs and cats, as well as other basic supplies, are available in all large UK shopping centers and supermarket chains, and there is no lack of qualified veterinarians in most areas. Specialty supply stores, boarding kennels, and catteries offering temporary care and accommodation may be a little harder to come by, but online pet directories are a good place to start looking.

Pet Adoption and Assistance Animals

If you and your pet have settled in the UK, you may think about getting another pet to keep you company. If you are interested in buying a dog, the Kennel Club will be able to provide you with more information. But as an experienced pet owner, you could also adopt a dog, a cat, or other animal from a shelter to give them a new home.

If you are a person with disabilities who owns an assistance dog or thinks about retraining their dog, please get in touch with one of the following organizations for assistance animals:


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 


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Expat Guide Great Britain

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