How long can I leave my cat or dog alone at home in Spain?

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How long can I leave my cat or dog alone at home in Spain?
The legal amount of time dogs and cats in Spain can spend alone is different. Photo: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

How long can you leave a pet unattended under Spain’s new animal welfare law without facing a hefty fine? And are there any exceptions?


In recent months, the Spanish government has attempted to pass legislation that strengthens the rights of pets, known as mascotas in Spanish. 

The country’s new Animal Welfare Law was approved by the Spanish Parliament in early February 2023, and includes a whole raft of changes and rules which pet owners have to follow. 


The legislation will need the final approval of the Spanish Senate before coming into force once it is published in Spain’s official state bulletin (BOE).


One of the law’s clauses addresses the matter of how long pets can be alone at home in Spain.  

In general terms, pets in Spain cannot be left alone for longer than 72 hours, equal to three days. This applies to cats, hamsters, rabbits, birds and other pets.

However, the maximum amount of time a dog can be left alone at home in Spain is now 24 hours. Leaving them locked out on terraces, balconies or kennels during this period is strictly forbidden.

The fine for leaving your pet alone for longer than the permitted time is up to €10,000.

Most animal experts and vets will without a doubt recommend that the time dogs spend alone be far less than a day nonetheless, from a maximum of two hours for puppies to six hours for adult dogs.

The only legal exception within the canine world are shepherd dogs that are fulfilling that very role, and they will need to have a geolocator on them and an outdoor shelter available to them.

For cats, animal associations acknowledge that felines can spend more time by themselves than pooches, but the recommendation is still to keep it under eight hours.  

Other countries in Europe have varying laws when it comes to leaving pets by themselves, while in some cases there is no legislation specifically stating a time limit. 

In Sweden, it’s illegal for a dog to be alone for more than six hours. 

In the UK, leaving a dog by itself for two or more days can be considered neglect or abuse.

According to Germany’s Animal Welfare Act, dogs shouldn't be left alone for more than five hours.

Having to leave a pet alone at home is something that all pet owners have to do at some point or another, but remember to factor in that your furry friends are emotionally attached to you and need social interactions to remain happy.

Every animal is different too, so your pet may be able to spend more or less time by themselves. It's best to keep absences short at first and prolong them gradually if necessary.


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Anonymous 2023/02/22 07:43
A shame that a law needs to be enacted to enforce what should be common sense. Pets are reliant on us for social interaction & affection, not to mention fresh food & water. Especially for cats that are strictly indoors: we are their reality: they don’t go outside. Always heartbreaking to hear someone say that a cat can be left alone indoors for days.

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