Owning a Pet in France: Vets, Vaccinations, and Responsibilities


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Owning a Pet in France: Vets, Vaccinations, and Responsibilities

Many people are pet lovers, and often, moving to France brings with it a little more open space. Perhaps you are bringing your beloved pet with you, or perhaps you are tempted to expand your family by rehoming a dog or cat in France. So, what are the basics of pet ownership in France?

Bringing your pet with you to France

Bringing a dog, cat or ferret from a non-EU country to France requires an Animal Health Certificate issued by an “Official Vet”.  You will need to do this no more than ten days before you travel. All dogs and cats entering France must be identified by a microchip or a tattoo (an older practice) and be vaccinated against rabies.

Read more about the requirements for travelling to France with a pet after Brexit and Animal Health Certificates.

Registering for a Pet Passport in France

On arrival in France, you should register your pet in the French system and apply for an EU pet passport – our guide Moving With Your Pets To France will take you through all the steps.

Any vet in France can provide your cat or dog (or ferret) with a European pet passport provided your pet meets the anti-rabies criteria, and you have the required documentation. Having a French pet passport will also allow you to travel with your dog or cat throughout the EU or to and from the UK without needing an Animal Health Certificate.

Veterinary Care in France

Even if you don’t plan on travelling with your pet, it is wise to register with your local vet on arrival and to share your pet’s vaccination record and pet passport in order that any boosters or requirements can be met.

Ticks are prevalent in France, and it is recommended to invest in a tick removal tool from the local pharmacy for both you and your pet. Medication is available for pets to prevent fleas, ticks and worms, and there are also herbal alternatives available. Your vet can advise you on any other precautions that you might want to consider for your pet, relevant to your local area and other risk factors.

Pet insurance in France

Veterinary fees in France may be significantly lower compared to that of your home country – it is worth doing some investigation before deciding whether or not to insure your pet. It is not common practice in France for owners to insure their pets (although some do). If you do choose to take out insurance, our article on choosing a French insurer may be of help.

Buying or Rehoming a Pet in France

If you wish to own a dog or cat, it is advisable to check out your local refuge. Many animals desperately need a good home. The SPA (Societe Protectrice Animaux)  and local Associations (Charities) will be able to help you – details of which are often found at the vets or online.

For a small fee, roughly around €200 depending on the age of the animal, you could be a new pet owner. Of course, these are not the only costs involved as there is equipment and food to consider too.

There are also opportunities to own other larger animals if you have the space. Do your research and ask at your local vet’s surgery for advice and information.

Read our article on adopting a dog or cat in France for more advice.

Responsible Pet Ownership in France

There are laws in France regarding pet ownership, and it is your responsibility to check the legalities of your individual situation.

Dog numbers are limited to no more than nine per household over four months of age. If you wish to supersede this number, then an application must be made to the relevant authorities at your Prefecture.

Certain categories of dog breeds must be muzzled by law. Dogs are not permitted to roam unattended. Dogs must be on a lead in public areas. If your dog is off the lead in an area deemed suitable, it must be within your sight (no more than 100 metres) and be trained to return to you on command. There may be restrictions on where you can walk your dogs, including some public parks and beaches (especially during peak season), but generally, France is a dog-loving country, and it’s quite usual to see well-behaved dogs at cafés and restaurants.

You might need to display an ‘ATTENTION CHIEN’ sign on your property to warn visitors – check this point with your insurers. If anyone enters your property and is bitten, it is better to be covered.

Make sure your animal is chipped and registered to your address in France.

Above all, care for your animals and enjoy your new life in France together.

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Carol, a teacher from Hurworth in Darlington, lives in Charente in South-West France, where she runs La Grue Gites with her family.