All dogs in Spain must be identified by microchip or by a clearly readable tattoo. The tattoo will only be accepted as a means of identification until 3 July 2011. Vaccination against rabies is compulsory. It is also advisable to have dogs vaccinated against other diseases such as distemper and hardpad.

There is no law against dogs fouling public places, however people are becoming increasingly sensitive about it and there are specific rules within certain places, such as urban parks. Dogs should be kept on a lead in public places.

Buying & Owning a Dog

The seller has to provide a sale certificate (Contrato de compra-venta), identification tattoo or microchip number, an identity card (Formulario de identificación canina) and the vaccination book signed by the vet. When relevant, the original pedigree is required.

A new owner has to vaccinate a puppy against rabies when the animal is six months old, and in all cases, must keep the rabies inoculations up to date. Some local municipalities require dogs to be registered there.

Regulated & Dangerous dogs

There are restrictions on owning certain breeds of dog in Spain. Laws are regulated by the Autonomous Communities (Comunidades Autónomas), which impose a wide variety of rules and regulations within the country. Any person owning a potentially dangerous dog (perros potencialmente peligrosos) must have an appropriate licence and insurance, and the dog must be registered annually with the municipality. Handlers and walkers of dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs must also be licensed. A licence is valid for five years.

The breeds identified as potentially dangerous are the Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Rottweiler, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Tosa Inu, and Akita Inu. Dogs with certain characteristics of these breeds are also classified as potentially dangerous and those that have a track record of aggression to humans and other animals must also be licensed and registered. The rules are different – and stricter – in Andalucia.

Animals Lost & Found

If you find a lost dog, take it to a local vet who will check if it is identified; if it’s not identified you may keep it, or contact the SPA (Sociedad Protectora de Animals) to ask for help. You also have the option of taking the animal to the public kennels (Perrera municipals). Do be careful with stray and lost dogs – rabies is prevalent throughout the country and if a dog bites you, you will have to get immediate medical attention.

If you lose a pet dog, contact the local vets and give the pet’s identification number. Animals are recorded at the Archivo de Identificación del Colegio de Veterinarios which will be notified if the dog turns up. You could also report the animal missing at the local police station, and provide a photograph and description. Also, contact local SPA (Sociedad Protectora de Animals) to ask for help.

Threats to Pets

There are a number of dangers to pet dogs in Spain. These include Leishmaniasis, which is a disease that mainly affects domestic dogs. It’s carried by small, yellow sand flies that bite the exposed skin of the nose and ears. The disease can incubate in a dog for many months before symptoms of weight loss, anaemia and hair loss show. It can be treated, but an untreated dog may die after several months.

Another commonly found threat is the processionary caterpillar or Procesionarias del pino. These caterpillars are three to four centimetres long, brown and hairy. At the start of spring they come out of round nests built in pine trees, travel down the tree and across the ground in single file, sometimes stopping in writhing circles. They are extremely dangerous as they “burn” the flesh of any animal (or person) that touches them. A small animal can die from the burn on contact – if your dog comes in to contact with these caterpillars it is advisable to seek immediate help from a vet.

Of course ticks can also be a problem but there are many effective off-the-shelf treatments available and you should also ensure that your dog receives regular worming treatment.

Further detailed information can be found on the website.

Bill Boyd

Director AngloINFO Costa Calida