The preferred pet in Spain is a dog. You will see every type of breed and size of dog, many of the smaller breeds suit apartments and as the majority of Spaniards live in apartments, all sorts of chihuahuas, dachshunds and toy poodles are to be seen in the towns and cities.
One could be forgiven for believing that this is a nation of animal lovers, but sadly many dogs and other animals are not treated well (donkeys for one) and the animal rights movement in Spain is waging a constant battle against bad owners and their care of their pets. That is not say that most Spaniards don’t care for and look after their pets well, but many dog owners for example leave their pet at home alone all day (in Spain they may leave at 9.00 a.m. and not return till 9.00 p.m.) and inevitably the animal gets lonely and barks constantly. Barking dogs are a major complaint here.
It has become easier to bring your pet into Spain from another EU country. You will need to check out the DEFRA website - UK Department for Environment Food and Rural affairs - to see what you need to do, so that your pet can enter the country. You will need a Pet Passport for dogs, cats and ferrets, but there aren’t any restrictions for pet rabbits, rodents, fish, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates within the EU, so these won’t require a Passport. Only licensed vets can issue Pets’ Passports.
Please note that there are new rules for 2015 to reduce the number of pets being unethically bred within the EU and you can find out more about Spain’s requirements from this EU website
The various terms for pets in Spain are mascota, animal de compania or animales domesticos. The EU pet passport allows you to move your cat, dog or ferret across all EU borders and it comes in the form of a booklet which contains required information about the animal, such as an identification number and proof that it has been vaccinated against rabies plus other non-obligatory information. You should contact your vet who will be able to explain the procedure and be sure to allow ample time for vaccinations before you plan to move to Spain. This pet passport is valid for the lifetime of your pet, providing that the rabies vaccination is current or has been renewed according to the legal requirements. If you are bringing rabbits or rodents with you, they do not need a passport but you must declare them at the border. All animals imported into Spain must be older than 3 months.
Keeping dogs or cats in Spain is not a problem and you may well get to know your neighbours when you are out walking your dog. In the countryside, most people have both dogs and cats but often the dogs will be kept on a running chain outside the house. Hunting is a popular pursuit here and many farmers and others keep hunting dogs in kennels away from their house.
Sadly, there are a number of abandoned pets and often expats are tempted to take them in, especially cats. Be aware that this can become a costly affair and once you give an animal a home, it becomes your responsibility. Vets’ fees in Spain are cheaper than in the UK, but taking in an animal that may have an underlying medical problem can become expensive. Generally vets in Spain offer a very good comprehensive service and will be able to microchip any pet you adopt. You will find vets in almost every town, and some have a 24 hour emergency service. Please note though, there are also numerous feral cats and dogs who fend for themselves and should be left alone.
Horses are amongst the most popular animals in Spain and you will usually find suitable pasture and stabling should you wish to bring your horses over, though you should consider the climate which is different from the UK and which your horse might find difficult to adapt to… this also applies to cats and dogs of course.
Pet food is widely available in supermarkets but you might consider buying in bulk from pet food suppliers. Be sure to check the ingredients carefully, as you would in the UK, though you will find high quality pet food available online and from local outlets.
Your pet will take time to adapt to their new surroundings and terrain, just like us humans. Make sure there is shade outside your home and try to keep as much as possible to its normal routine. There is no reason why you and your pet should not enjoy a long and happy life here - many, many thousands already do.