Buying a cat or dog

If you buy a pet dog or cat, it’s important that you make checks to help combat the illegal trade in pet animals.

Do not buy a cat or dog from unknown sources – it’s important that you know where it comes from and where it was born.

Trade in illegally imported cats and dogs

Some dogs and cats for sale in the UK have been imported illegally from abroad. This puts the health and welfare of the animals and the general public at risk.

Dogs and cats that are illegally imported for sale or rehoming may be:

  • carrying serious diseases that could spread to other pets or people
  • too young for import
  • transported in inadequate conditions
  • at risk of behavioural and welfare issues due to poor breeding and rehoming
  • without the necessary health preparations for import
  • advertised in a way that misleads the buyer on the animal’s history, breed or pedigree

If you find that your new pet has been imported illegally, you may have to pay for costly quarantine and veterinary bills.

Buying a cat or dog guidelines

Follow these guidelines to make sure you help combat the illegal trade in pet animals. If you plan to buy a cat or dog:

Buying a puppy or a kitten

If you plan to buy a puppy or kitten:

Raising concerns

Contact your Local Authority Trading Standards if you’re concerned:

  • about the health or welfare of dogs and cats advertised for sale
  • you may have bought an illegally imported pet
Published 18 April 2013
Last updated 20 January 2020 + show all updates
  1. Guidance reviewed to reflect current situation.

  2. Amended BVA link to Animal Welfare Foundation.

  3. Added link to caring for pets

  4. First published.