For members


What will Spain’s test to buy or adopt a dog consist of?

Like many people in Spain, if you’re looking to buy or adopt a dog, you will now have to undergo a training course beforehand, to be allowed to become a pet owner. Here’s what you need to know and what it will entail.

dog and owner
Those in Spain will now have to undergo a test to adopt or buy a dog. Photo: Katrin B. / Pixabay

So many people own a dog in Spain that there are more dogs than children under the age of 15. In fact, there are an estimated 13 million pets registered in the country and around one-quarter of all Spanish households have one or more.

But if you want to become a dog owner, the situation is about to change. You can now no longer just contact a shelter and adopt a dog or buy one from a breeder, without going through a special training course first.

Spain’s Council of Ministers approved on August 1st, in the second round of the Animal Rights Law, a pioneering rule to guarantee the welfare of animals within a common legal framework.  

READ ALSO: What are the rules on taking your pets on holiday in Spain?

The law seeks to put an end to the mistreatment, abandonment, and sacrifice of animals and promotes responsible ownership and coexistence with animals, as well as establishing a set of obligations for pet owners.  

One of the most talked about parts of the law is the test that owners will need to go through in order to be able to buy or adopt a dog.

The accredited training course will be mandatory in order to guarantee that you are able to take care of your dog properly.  

The law states that all dogs must be “easy to keep in captivity” or that their accommodation must “meet the conditions so that they can adequately develop their basic physiological, ethological and ecological needs”.  The law also prohibits the ownership of “dangerous dog breeds”.  

READ ALSO: What you need to consider before adopting a rescue dog in Spain

What will the new course to own a dog entail?

The course will be online, free and simple.

General director of Animal Rights, Sergio García Torres said: “We are talking about a short training course. It’s very similar to courses that food handlers take to work in restaurants. It’s a free course that is done online and is relatively easy”, he said.

As part of the course, you will also have to take out civil liability insurance, in order to protect third parties, and must agree that you will not leave your dog alone at home for more than 24 hours or locked up on a balcony, terrace or patio. 

In the case of other pets, such as cats, they will not be allowed to be left alone for more than three days. 

García Torres indicated that course will promote responsible dog ownership, by trying to eliminate behaviours such as not picking up dog poo in the streets, for example. 

In addition, both the owner and the pet must pass a “test to assess their aptitude to function in the social sphere,” according to the bill. However, it remains to be seen whether this test must be passed by all dogs and what form it will take.

What else does the new law cover?

Another of the most relevant and significant aspects of this new animal law is the “zero sacrifice” clause. This means that pets will not be allowed to be killed for reasons to do with overpopulation, money, lack of space, not being able to find a home, old age, illness (if it’s treatable), or behavioural problems that can be fixed. 

To prevent the abandonment of animals, the bill also prohibits pet breeding, except for registered professionals, as well as the sale of cats, dogs and ferrets in pet stores.

READ ALSO – IN DEPTH: Will bullfighting ever be banned in Spain?

“This law allows us to move in the right direction. Its measures are supported by between 80 and 90 percent of the population. It’s a law of common sense and that brings us more in line with the rest of Europe,” said the Minister for Social Rights Ione Belarra. 

Specifically, she hopes that it will put an end to “the very serious problem” of animal abuse. The minister stressed that those who do abuse animals could face up to 36 months in prison.

In January 2022 a new law in Spain took effect recognising pets as “sentient beings” for the first time. 


Member comments

  1. Indoor cats should not be left alone for more than 24 hours at most. They require the same love, attentiveness, daily fresh water & food as a dog does. It is a complete misconception that cats are “independent” and can fend for themselves for days on end. As in any relationship, you get back what you put in.
    Signed, Dayna, cat mom

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For members


How much does it cost to keep a pet in Spain?

Many people in Spain own a pet, but how much does it actually cost to keep your furry friend? Find out what the average expenses in Spain are for vet bills, pet food, and pet insurance.

How much does it cost to keep a pet in Spain?

Let’s face it, owning a pet can be expensive, as well as basic items such as food, leashes, and litter trays, there are vet bills to pay, vaccination and grooming costs, which can soon mount up.  

According to the most recent data from Veterindustria, the Spanish Business Association of Animal Health and Nutrition in collaboration with the National Association of Pet Food Manufacturers (ANFAAC), 50.2 percent of families in Spain own some type of pet.

A survey by the Organisation of Consumers and Users (OCU) suggests that 65 percent ​​of the owners have a dog, 44 percent have a cat, 15 percent have a small bird, 11 percent have a turtle, seven percent have fish and just six percent have a hamster or other type of rodent.

The OCU discovered that people in Spain spend an average of €1131 per year on a dog and €986 on a cat. This can be quite a big expense and works out to €94.25 per month for dog owners and €82.16 per month for cat owners.

Find out how is this broken up, what the biggest expense is, and if there are any ways you can save money as a pet owner in Spain.

READ ALSO – Renting in Spain when you have a pet: What are my rights?

Pet food costs

The biggest expense in owning a pet is food, according to the OCU survey. Pet owners spend an average of €47 per month on dog food and €44 on cats. This equates to €564 and €528 per year respectively.

But, pet food doesn’t need to be so expensive, in fact, the OCU state that it’s possible to save up to €300 per year if you choose wisely.

During their pet study, they also discovered that the most expensive brands of pet food weren’t necessarily the best and did not always meet the nutritional needs of the animal.

For cats, they discovered that a 5kg bag of dry food costs between €0.40 and €0.50 per day, while wet food costs €4 per day.

Be aware, that the report found there were no good dry food brands that completely met the nutritional needs of a cat for less than €3 per kg, so while you can save money it’s best not to buy the very cheapest brands on the market.

READ ALSO: Can Brits move to Spain with their pets post-Brexit?

Veterinary costs

Whatever happens, at some point you will need to take your pet to the vet. Even if they don’t get sick very often, they will need vaccinations, check-ups, and sterilisation.

According to a report by the Spanish Veterinary Management Studies (VMS), the average price of a vet visit in Spain is €34.

Average prices for other common veterinary services include ultrasounds (€56), X-rays (€40), rabies vaccine (€26), castration of dogs (€150) and cats (€85), and mouth or teeth cleaning (€108).  

In Barcelona, the prices were among the highest in the country, well above the average, while in Andalusia and the Canary Islands, the prices were below the average.  It is also worth noting that veterinary centres have increased their prices by 4.98 percent since last year, due to recent inflation.  

When you first get a pet there are other costs involved too, such as the registration and microchipping costs. Typically these are sold in a pack along with basic vaccinations and vary widely in price. If you want to travel with your pet, getting a pet passport can add further costs on top of this. For example, in Madrid, it costs around €25 for a pet passport and another €25 for a vet certificate. 

Pet insurance costs

According to the OCU survey, in the last 12 months, 45 percent of dogs had to have an emergency trip to the vet and 24 percent of cats. As we’ve seen above, vet costs can build up, but if you have pet insurance this can help cover the cost of the financial burden.

Pet insurance varies widely, depending on exactly what it covers. Here are some of the costs for the most popular insurance companies.

  • Caser pet insurance €199 per year
  • Adeslas Mascotas basic from €5.58 per month or complete cover from €24.74 per month
  • Mapfre from €64 per year
  • Asisa Mascotas from €9,47 per month