From trips to the vet to micro-chipping, being a good pet owner means knowing the law.

Mandatory micro-chipping

They say dogs are man's best friend, and losing a much-loved pet can be devastating. Micro-chipping offers the best chance of a missing animal's safe return.

More than 86% of UK dog owners have already micro-chipped their pets. But, on 6 April this year, micro-chipping dogs became compulsory. Any dog over the age of eight weeks must be micro-chipped and registered on a national database.

If a local authority finds a dog without a microchip, it can order the owner to microchip their dog within 21 days, or face a fine of £500.

Buying a pet

Pet ownership often starts with buying your pet, and by law you must be at least 16 years old to buy an animal. Adults are legally responsible for the welfare of their children's pets.

When you buy a pet from a shop, the law protects you as a consumer. That means that if your pet gets sick or dies shortly after you buy it, the pet shop may give you a refund or replace your pet.

If you buy an animal from a private seller, you have fewer rights. For more about your rights, visit Citizens Advice's website.

Caring for animals

The Animal Welfare Act is now 10 years old. It states that owners must take all reasonable steps to:

  • meet their pets' needs
  • give them enough food and water
  • house them properly, and
  • protect them from pain, suffering, injury and disease

People who don't look after their animals can be banned from owning them, fined up to £20,000, or even be sent to prison.

Going to the vet

Trips to the vets are part and parcel of owning a pet, and the law protects you and your animals while you're there.

If the treatment a vet gives doesn't meet a reasonable standard of care and injures your pet, you can complain or take legal action.

You should get legal advice early on. Citizens Advice can help. In some cases, it makes sense to talk to a lawyer.

Your Comments

Matthew says:

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 22:35
I'm suffering hard from anxiety and depression and get some relief and comfort when visiting my aunt's two dogs.
This website says you can purchase a pet at 16. Does this mean that i could buy a dog myself? Could my parents sell it or take it away from me?

Pavitri.Tailor… says:

Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:13

In reply to by Matthew

Hi Matthew

Please take a look at the below website.

Legal Choices

Kim Roberts says:

Wed, 11/27/2019 - 22:45
I was asked by social service to take my daughter, her children and her dog to live with me until they could find her suitable accommodation knowing I already had three dogs. Another borough of social service took over and the social worker states that because she does not feel comfortable with the dogs when she visits I need to lock them in a room. If I don’t she will get the police to attend with her as the law states my dogs have to been locked away at her request. Is this true. My dogs are not aggressive and the children climb all over them the dogs are 12 and 10 years old. Only have two now as one died a few months back. My daughters dog is 2.

Pavitri.Tailor… says:

Fri, 11/29/2019 - 12:37

In reply to by Kim Roberts

Hi Kim

We cannot provide official legal advice I'm afraid, but we can signpost you to various areas on the web.

As such, there may be some information here, that you might find useful:

It may also be worth you contacting a local RSPCA to ask if they are aware of anything relating to this and if they can provide you with any information.

Best Wishes

Legal Choices Team

Charlotte says:

Fri, 12/25/2020 - 02:26

In reply to by Kim Roberts

Kim: The issue isn't one of law on the face of it but more common decency. Not all visiting professionals to your home will be comfortable with the dogs being loose during the visit and it's not at all unreasonable to ask that you just secure the dogs during the time they do visit. I struggle to grasp the thought process and why this is such a bone of contention, you are willing to seek and take legal advice rather than just appreciate the social worker isn't someone that likes or feels at ease with dogs. If you have been asked to move them but refuse and the social worker has to visit your home then she can request additional support for her safety if she feels at risk. She may also be uncomfortable with the children climbing on the dogs as well which is also entirely understandable.

Frank says:

Sun, 12/01/2019 - 20:07
HI i have sold my dog by a mistake and I don't know what to do on how to get him back I have tried to contact the person who I sold it to but they said that they won't give him back. Please can someone help me on how to get my dog back. Thank you

Pavitri.Tailor… says:

Mon, 02/03/2020 - 16:02

In reply to by Frank

Hi Frank

Have the ownership of documents been settled?

Legal Choices Team

Millisa says:

Tue, 12/10/2019 - 16:40
Can a vet stop me from taking my dead dog home ?

Pavitri.Tailor… says:

Mon, 02/03/2020 - 15:57

In reply to by Millisa

Hi Millisa]

Might be of some use

Legal Choices Team

Robert Rawlings says:

Tue, 12/31/2019 - 23:11
4 months ago a friend asked us to look after her dog as she had to move out of the family home with her son and could not take the dog with her. When we took the dog in she was shy, timid, skinny, didn't know how to play or have cuddles. That has all changed and when they came round to ask us for something they couldn't believe that she had been upstairs with me as she never did it with them! She has really bonded with me and along with my mothers dog, who we took in when she had to move into a home, follow me wherever I go. At the beginning of October our friend and son came to live with us for a few weeks. They paid no attention to the dog and she continued to be close by me all the time. I had to go round to their family home to collect some things for them and was shocked at the conditions they had been living in. At the end of October we had to ask them to leave as we could no longer tolerate their behaviour and as we were going on a short break didn't feel comfortable leaving them in the house. Since then they have been round once to collect mail, we have not received any money from them for the upkeep of the dog. We have brought her all her food, got her into a healthy condition, brought her new lead and collar as the ones she came with were not suitable. She has become a part of our family and our kids love her, we are now concerned about what would happen to her if they wanted to take her back. Where do we stand legally?

Pavitri.Tailor… says:

Fri, 02/07/2020 - 11:50

In reply to by Robert Rawlings

Hi Robert

You may want to seek legal advice on this matter. You may also want to check if the dog has been registered / microchipped.

Legal Choices Team

Anny says:

Thu, 01/23/2020 - 22:32
my boyfriend and me bought a dog from someone who posted on website that she wants to rehome him.
He is a 4years old Husky But when we arrived at her house to picked up a dog and ask about the microchip and vaccines “ the seller were said that they will give us the next day“ she needs to find the paper and give to us tomorrow but it has been nearly two weeks since we got him and we been asking but she keep change the subject asking how is the dog instead of giving ask the information we supposed to have.
Now we worried that something wrong with this dog.
We went the the Vet but they said they cant help in this case.
what should i do? Evidence we have it only the chat that we talking about purchased the dog.

Pavitri.Tailor… says:

Fri, 02/07/2020 - 11:43

In reply to by Anny

Hi Anny

Perhaps the dog is not registered or microchipped - you could check by taking the dog to the vets: See below links for further information:

Legal Choices Team

Summer says:

Sun, 02/02/2020 - 21:14
I had two cats which I bought off of my friend, they are registered under mine and my partners name, however my friend took the cats off of us as a temporary basis due to my partners mental health. So I have kindly asked if I can now have my cat back, my friend has become aggressive, refusing to allow me to have my cat back, telling me I have to pay for him (again plus extra), she is telling me to take her to court, that I will never have him back. What can I do? Also we did not get to micro chip him before he left however he is registered at the vets under our names. Someone please help as her behaviour has triggered anxiety and fear of leaving my house.

Pavitri.Tailor… says:

Fri, 02/07/2020 - 11:39

In reply to by Summer

Hi Summer

Here are some links for information. Have you got any documentation of proof of ownership?

You may need to seek individual legal advice if the issue persists.

Legal Choices Team

Andrew says:

Tue, 02/04/2020 - 22:02
Please could anyone give me some advice please, my girlfriend has moved in with me and her dog which she bought with her birthday money when she was 14 is still with her dad, I understand that at 14 the dog would still be her dads legally but does she have any legal right to it now as she is worried sick about how he treats it and the dog needs to see a vet for its glands but he wobt take it, she would like the dog to live with us but he refuses to talk to her

Pavitri.Tailor… says:

Fri, 02/07/2020 - 11:28

In reply to by Andrew

Hi Andrew,

Unfortunately you must be over the age of 16 to keep a dog. Has the dog been registered / microchipped yet?

Here are some link for further reading:$ja=tsid:|cid:1403862223|agid:61029692051|tid:dsa-582247928352|crid:269371529016|nw:g|rnd:4842413512183324681|dvc:c|adp:|mt:b|loc:9045888&gclid=Cj0KCQiAsvTxBRDkARIsAH4W_j9Tq9PnzGdf9YoaCFKKyR407m1mNct-aqlDt7Oi_YTlYdWjt-cwJCwaAmrcEALw_wcB

Legal Choices Team

Hifazat Ali says:

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 06:58
There should be dog parks in each city. Owners should go for regular vet visits. Dogs must get <a href="">vaccinations</a> annually and micro-chipped.

laurel kirlew says:

Tue, 03/03/2020 - 22:07
I bought a pet, Guinea-Pig with my house mate. She now keeps it in a small cage in the corner of the room soon as I moved out and doesn’t feed or water her properly! I paid for the cage and half for fendi ( let’s name) and refused to pay half back.

She does not look after her at all and I offered to take her back home whilst we found her a new home as my ex house mate abused her by leaving her in her own poo etc and didn’t feed or water her properly

Pavitri.Tailor… says:

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 10:14

In reply to by laurel kirlew

Hi Laurel,

Has the guinea-pig been registered in your name as the owner?


Legal Choices Team 

Craig Purvis says:

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 13:55
Hello, we are looking to adopt a very young dog from the Dogs Trust. The animal in question is in their care because it bit a young family member. Social Services and the Police were involved, but no legal proceedings were initiated. The Dogs Trust are placing 2 particular conditions on the adoption: 1) the dog must never, ever come into contact with children again; 2) Must never, ever be left off a leash in public space incase of contact with a child. The dog has no other history of aggression and it has been sen as an isolated incident. We are not aware of a Contingent Destruction Order or an Acceptable Behaviour Contract, only that the Police have said to the original owners that the dog mustn't come into contact with children. Are the Dogs Trust's pre-conditions legally binding/enforceable at some point in the future? Are they reasonable, given the young age of the dog and the breed's likely life expectancy? We are a child-free household, and routinely walked our previous dog on a lead, so our honest intentions are to comply with their wishes, but we are not perfect and cannot anticipate every scenario over the next decade. Advice please.

Pavitri.Tailor… says:

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 10:27

In reply to by Craig Purvis

Hi Craig,

Unfortunately we are not able to provide legal advice, this might be something you need to investigate futher. See below for some background reading:


Legal Choices Team 

Beth says:

Mon, 04/20/2020 - 08:51
Hi, looking for advice. I've recently left my partner. He has the dog we shared together. My concern is that our dog is very ill. To the point that I phoned the vets and was strongly advised to euthanize him, I agreed. My partner at the time didn't agree and believes there is nothing wrong with him, although the vet said my dog has brain damage. I don't want my dog to suffer due to my ex not listening. Is there anything I can do to get my dog back?

Pavitri.Tailor… says:

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 10:11

In reply to by Beth

Hi Beth,

Who is the dog registered to? 

There may be some useful information below:


Legal Choices Team 

Jess says:

Wed, 04/22/2020 - 00:29
Hi all,
I really need some help/advice.
I’m currently 16 and just coming up living with my dad for 6 month while living woth my mum before this I got an adopted puppy given to me for my birthday and I have papers to saying I’m the adopter and her microchip is in my name since I have moved out to my dads I have not been aloud any contact with the dog and I have tried everything and I have no idea what to do if anyone has any advise or anyway I could go about getting the dog I would be very grateful to hear from you

Pavitri.Tailor… says:

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 10:30

In reply to by Jess

Hi Jess,

Unfortunately we are not able to provide any legal advice, you may be able to find some useful information below:


Legal Choices Team 

H D Williams says:

Fri, 04/24/2020 - 18:42
Hello. I am hoping that someone on here can help me. My mother in law passed away in February. She had a small dog that my husband and I have been taking care of ever since she passed. We are very attached to the dog. Now my brother in law is saying that the dog was left to him in a Will. He has not done anything to help look after the baby. How can we stop him from taking the dog away from us. It is really going to break our hearts if we have to give him up. We love him like he was our child.

Pavitri.Tailor… says:

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 10:33

In reply to by H D Williams


It may be worth getting some legal advice at this stage:


Legal Choices Team 

Hayley Kenny says:

Tue, 05/05/2020 - 12:18
Can my dog go under my name when im 16 or do i have to be 18

Pavitri.Tailor… says:

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 10:35

In reply to by Hayley Kenny

Hi Hayley,

Please see previous comments on all relating articles for ownership.


Legal Choices Team


Stacey algie says:

Sun, 05/10/2020 - 21:58
I would like to know where I stand as I adopted a dog off a rescue last August 2019 it states in the adoption paperwork that after 6 months the rescue will sign her ie Microchip legally over to me well I have messaged them they have seen the message but no reply. This dog had have 1 ear canal removed before the we took her in and now has to have the other one done which I dont mind paying for but I've been told she should never have been adopted out with existing health issues she should have come to me on medical Foster I don't want to lose the dog

Legal Choices says:

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 10:37

In reply to by Stacey algie

Hi Stacey,

You may need to seek legal advice or speak to someone who specialises in this matter:


Legal Choices Team 

Rachael Makin says:

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 11:05
We bought a puppy from a private breeder looked perfect and totally fell in love with her but unfortunately she became ill and after only a week she lost her fight for life, we are both broken-hearted and tried everything we could to save her life, our Vet and the veterinarian Hospital she was moved to tried all they could to save her and were as upset as we was to lose her she was only nine weeks old when she died of parvovirus we have contacted the breeder to let him know so that he can inform the other puppy owners and asked if he could help with some of the expense which has run into thousands we don’t expect them to pay for vet and hospital fees but feel we should get the money back we paid for the puppy which would help a little towards the bills, there response was that they would give us nothing and that she must have contacted the virus from us, this is impossible as we have not had a dog for five years and she became ill after only 3 days at home with us, we immediately took her to the Vets who did all they could to save her, we are trying to come to terms with her death and deal with all the cost as well, we feel they are responsible for some of the costs especially the money we paid for her even though they probably didn’t know she had the parvovirus as the vets say this takes between 7 - 10 days for the symptoms to show which tells us she must have had the virus when we picked her up, we are struggling to pay all the costs involved, do we have a case against the breeder?

Hollie Jones says:

Sun, 05/31/2020 - 00:49
My parents use to breed dogs. I decided to buy one pup off them (through paying for a holiday). I paid for all the dog’s essentials (bowls, food, beds, toys, collars, jackets, vet bill) however they helped me pay for the odd thing such as worming kits, as I was only 18 and still in college. I am also registered owner on her chip.

I have recently fallen out with them as I have moved out and they will not let even see the dog and claim that she isn’t my dog. Are they allowed to do this legally?

Mr. RRJR says:

Sun, 09/06/2020 - 17:49
Hi. (Posted this before but unsure if it worked or not, if so, apologies).

My partner and I recently adopted two dogs, at separate times, from a dog shelter in Budapest.

The first dog, my partner had paid for and took care of all expenses in regards to pet insurance, vet bills and anything else. The second dog I paid for and covered all expenses etc. Both dogs are in my partners name in regards to paperwork and microchip information. We kept it this way as we had already transacted with the shelter before and felt this was the easier way to approach the situation at the time.

Unfortunately my partner and I have split up and with a joint agreement with each other, have kept ownership of each dog. I have all paperwork and documentation that I need for my dog.

My question is:

will I have to contact the adoption shelter if I want to change the paperwork etc into my name as well as changing his microchip information to my current address (as this obviously has changed due to the break up). Will there be any repercussions of changing this information and ownership properly into my name, since we have both agreed this is the way we would deal with the situation.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Martyn says:

Tue, 10/06/2020 - 16:33
I have returned my dog (sadly) to the breeder. My question is; if the breeder resells the puppy am I entitled to some sort of refund? The contract states that I have to return the dog to the breeder, I can not sell it on so there is no other way to rehome the puppy other than to return it. I know full well the breeder will resell this puppy

Mary Christensen says:

Wed, 10/07/2020 - 17:01
I want to buy a dog from Oklahoma and I live in Utah. I was researching the law because I have been told that I have to be 18? I am so confused? Please someone help me out here. I am 17 and will be 18 in November, but if I can get the dog sooner I am all for it.

Shakeira says:

Sat, 10/10/2020 - 05:15
I need advice big time!! Please anyone who has any knowledge I really need to get my dogs back> My mum kicked me my stepdad and my little brother out during lockdown. I am 16 the dogs where in her name. Is there anything i can do to get my dogs back.. they where gifts to me on my 14th birthday and had become my life. I am struggling without them and am looking for anyways to legally get them back. I dont have the money to buy them of her if she would even accept that and she wont just hand them over!! When ever I would come home in tears and sit on the sofa the dogs would cheer me up.. they would make a horrible day suddenly so much better.I used to feed care and nurture them. I dont know how they are being treated. I assume do you my mums work scheme not very well.

Chloe Fisher says:

Sat, 10/10/2020 - 11:21
Hi. We sold a year old puppy to a family 6 months ago. On the understanding that the puppy would be in doors and would sleep next to the new owner . Her husband works nights so she said the puppy would keep her company.she told us she as only a cat. Six months as passed and we have been told she as 5 other dogs and they are all kept outside in a small kennel. We have been round to see the puppy but was refused. We see the kennel with the other dogs in . Dog mess all over. Have we got rights to offer money back to get her back?

Charles Okoth says:

Tue, 10/27/2020 - 21:30
Is it right for a charity for taking my dog which h I have offered them to enthusiate her on the same day of arrival without giving her a chance of life and training

William says:

Wed, 10/28/2020 - 15:48
I have taken in a dog from a family member (who has had the dog for over a year) which the family member and I agreed would be for a week as the dog needed veterinary care and they had not made an effort to do so.
As it currently stand after visiting the vet the dog has been neglected he has:
Flea infestation (I have now sorted)
Worms (I have now sorted)
Malnutrition - 12KGs underweight (I have now put on a specialist diet and have ongoing monitoring with the vet)
Gum disease - (I have booked ultrasonic dental treatment as he is too weak for an anesthetic)
Muscular Degeneration (I am following a veterinary exercise plan and the diet)
Pressure Sores (Being monitored and I have got him a specialist bed)
Extreme anxiety with soiling and wetting (I have experience of rescue dogs so I am managing this myself and when he is better will look at professional training)
Not Vaccinated (He is too unwell for vaccines but I have booked them for a months time in the hope he will be well enough)
I have also had the Microchip transfered to my details as the vet was insistent.

Now the family member wants them back, not because they can afford the treatment, but because they miss him. What are my rights?

Kenneth McPerson says:

Fri, 10/30/2020 - 16:10
A near neighbour submitted a photograph of our Lhasa Apso to the SSPCA who visited on the 6th October. Her coat had matted areas and on that basis was removed for rehoming much against our wishes. A request to ensure she was groomed and had her nails was met with refusal and the only options would mean the loss of our dog.
I informed the Inspector that I had a long term spinal cord injury that required surgery in May and rehab period of 1 year. This was discounted as a reason for the state of her coat and have registered complaints as well as a representation from my
MP to recover her. All to no avail. I believed that Covid prevented us from having a groomer come to our property or to visit a business property.
My partner and I are heartbroken at the turn of events and would appreciate your reply.

Charlotte says:

Fri, 12/25/2020 - 02:47

In reply to by Kenneth McPerson

Not sure I read this correctly. Do you mean they were willing to allow the dog to remain with you on the condition and agreement her coat and nails were well kept to which you weren't able to agree and ensure it was done?

If so I'm afraid you are unlikely to have much in the way of argument or cause for complaint because it's a basic but essential need that doesn't require professional groomers to maintain.

Kamila says:

Wed, 11/04/2020 - 19:48
Hello. I have breed my dog. We had arrangment with other breeder to give her puppy to keep. Now she told me she is giving it away and the worst part is that she want take 10 week old puppy abroad without passport etc. Basiclly she want to smuggle it through border risking it life. Is there any chance legally to get puppy back to us?

Jo says:

Thu, 11/12/2020 - 20:41
Hi, my 4 and a half month old puppy was diagnosed with a severe hip dysplesia. We decided sadly we couldn't keep him as that would have ruined us financially and would not be able to cope. Found a lady with few other dogs who was willing to take him in and look after him. Was very grateful. However, 24h after she picked him up i got news that he had been put to sleep. I did sign a handwritten note that i give her the power of attorney to make all medical decisions. My question is, shouldn't have i been informed before they put him to sleep so at least i can say good bye and also would i be able to get copies of his records from the vet to send to the breeder as proof of illness?
Thank you

Charlotte says:

Fri, 12/25/2020 - 02:38

In reply to by Jo

Unfortunately the new owner wasn't legally obliged to inform or contact you given that you signed over and gave her written consent to medical treatment etc. I'm sure it was upsetting to find out but given the puppy was allegedly put to sleep just 24hrs after the lady took him, it's possible the condition was more serious than thought.

Even if the lady were to contact and inform the breeder, it may not be a genetic deformity caused by anything they did.

Paula says:

Sat, 12/12/2020 - 17:21
Can someone help me? I became a foster carer for a puppy charity in uk. 5 weeks after receiving my pup the charity contacted me at which point I said I wanted to keep him. The manager said £300 please. It was day one of lockdown (2nd Nov) I’m self employed so just lost another £7200! I asked respectfully if I could please pay her after lockdown (ending 2nd December) she refused. She text me that unless I pay £300 now she will be calling the police to say my dog had been stolen from her??? I was really taken aback by this as I fully intended to foster other dogs! Anyway I have gone back to her as promised. She ignored my messages. On reading through the charities contract, I have done nothing wrong, the puppy was delivered in a crate with nothing else and according to her own contract they are supposed to pay for all food lead bowls flea worm etc whilst fostering. I said I would pay her £300 LESS the food etc for those first weeks. She has replied that I cannot have him. He is HER DOG and that this isn’t the way to get dogs! I need to get him castrated. I have no docs for him no passport nothing. I want to pay IT but she surely has to work within her own rules? This charity is POUND PUPPY ANIMAL RESCUE. IT is Jayne charity no: 1167435. I really believe she maybe bringing dogs to UK without the jabs needed and fake docs. What can I do?

Cihan says:

Sat, 12/19/2020 - 18:14
A cat comes to my house every day for last 9 months. I don’t know who the cat is but I know it has a owner. This cat started to stay overnight for last few days. Even if I don’t let her stay overnight she stay in front of my garden door. We love her so much but we don’t want to detain her. My question is, is this illegal to keep someones pet at home sometime? Or shall we start keeping away her from us for any possible charge.

Charlie Moffatt says:

Sun, 12/27/2020 - 21:07
I am 17, and took my guinea pig to the vets last night with a fractured tibia. They did not carry out and x-ray, but told us it was fractured. We were told the expenses would be £109 and received an invoice for £179.99 because of a £10 treatment. As I am 17 and I feel they have taken advantage of my age and lack of vet knowledge, is this legal.

Crystal says:

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 10:40
Hi there i recently looked after a dog for a so called friend and he convinced me to look after her whilst she had the littler and take care of the puppies until he moved as his flat didn’t except dogs , he left me with dogs getting ill while he sodded off round the world on holidays and left me to deal with it , the stress and anxiety and lack of sleep was unreal and I gave my every waking minute to them dogs to be mugged off constantly have to beg him to send them bags of food milk when was gone , he sold them and made so many excuses about what his gotta to pay out , and his still not paid me for bording and looking after them 24/7 I had his dog for 9months and his litter I felt bullied and broken down as he would blame everything on me constantly when I’d do everything for them while he just went missing surly I can do something about this I feel like I’ve been used as some slave labour and his raking money in and don’t think he even cares about the poor dogs how do I take this forward to be delt with as no one should be treated like that and I don’t think people like him deserve animals anyway ! His names Paul sing Paul ace stear clear don’t buy bulldogs or British bully’s off him his a puppy farmer who dumps all his dogs on other people so he doesn’t have the responsibility of it all and the mess all he wants to do is pick up checks !!

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