Adopting or Buying a Pet

Adopting or Buying a Pet in Ireland? Ensure Their Well-being with These Guidelines

Are you in the process of considering adopting or purchasing a pet in Ireland? It’s essential to be well-informed and equipped with the knowledge to safeguard your future pet’s health and welfare. Let’s dive into the details.

Which Pets Are Covered by Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Regulations?

The “Sale and Supply and Advertising of Pet Animals” regulations are aimed at protecting a wide range of “pet animals.” These include animals kept for companionship, as a pastime, or for ornamental purposes. Notably, they exclude farm animals such as horses, greyhounds, cattle, and sheep.

Penalties These regulations – S.I. No. 681/2019 – Animal Health and Welfare (Sale or Supply of Pet Animals) Regulations 2019 – are subject to penalties as prescribed by the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013.

Checklist for Purchasing a Pet

Minimum Age of Sale/Supply of Certain Pets

Here’s a critical checklist regarding the minimum age for the sale or supply of certain pets:

  • No sale or supply of unweaned pet animals.
  • Dogs and cats must be at least 8 weeks old.
  • Rabbits should have reached 6 weeks.
  • Guinea pigs, gerbils, or hamsters should be 4 weeks old.
  • Ferrets must attain 8 weeks.
  • Mice or rats should reach 4 weeks.

Pet Sale Advertisements

All advertisements featuring pet animals must contain the following vital information:

  • Seller/supplier’s registration number
    Check the Register of Sellers/Suppliers of Pet Animals (updated regularly by DAFM).
    If the seller/supplier is not on this list, contact the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the details at the bottom of this page).
  • The age of the animal.
  • Unique microchip code for dogs.
  • Country of origin of the animal.
  • In case of a seller/supplier being a dog breeding establishment covered by the Dog Breeding Establishment Act 2010, their Dog Breeding Establishment registration number issued by the relevant Local Authority.
    Contact the Local Authority/Council or check the council website for the most recent register.
  • For registered charitable organisations (Charities Act 2009), their registration number issued under the Charities Act 2009.
    Verify a Charity Registration Number

Registration Details

If the seller or supplier is involved in the sale or supply of six or more pet animals within a calendar year, they must register on the “Register of Sellers and Suppliers of Pet Animals” (this list is regularly updated).

Additionally, the premises associated with the sale or supply of pet animals must be registered in the “Register of Premises.” Please note that a pet sales registration is distinct from a “herd” number. The Register of Premises number should be visibly displayed in the premises used for selling or supplying pets, and the registration should be renewed annually.

The Register of Premises list is not posted publicly by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. They can be contacted on the details at the bottom of this page for further information.

Notably, the “Register of Sellers and Suppliers of Pet Animals” excludes Dog Breeding Establishments and local authorities or facilities run by or on behalf of a local authority, such as a dog pound. If the seller or supplier is a Dog Breeding Establishment, it’s advisable to verify that the DBE is registered with the local authority.

Voluntary Code of Practice for Sellers and Suppliers of Pet Animals

The Department of Agriculture also issues a voluntary “Code of Practice” for sellers or suppliers of pet animals. This comprehensive code encompasses guidelines for ensuring animal welfare and addresses public health concerns. For instance, it emphasizes the importance of maintaining good hygiene when handling animals and underscores potential health risks to children associated with contact with reptiles.

This code is an invaluable guide for potential buyers or adopters, as sellers or suppliers should strive to adhere to these recommended welfare standards endorsed by the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine.

Summary of Key Points for Different Species

The “Voluntary Code of Practice for Sellers and Suppliers of Pet Animals” furnishes specific guidelines and regulations for the care and sale of various species of pet animals. Below is a brief summary of key points for each group:

All Pet Animals:

  • Ensure clean, well-maintained premises with proper waste disposal.
  • Establish a relationship with a Private Veterinary Practitioner.
  • Provide appropriate accommodation and diet according to the species.
  • Safeguard animals from pain, suffering, injury, disease, and harsh weather conditions.
  • Isolate sick animals.
  • Adhere to legal age requirements.
  • Dispose of deceased animals appropriately.

Dogs and Cats:

  • Don’t display or sell them until they are at least 8 weeks old.
  • Microchip and vaccinate dogs.
  • Vaccinate cats against feline viral respiratory diseases.
  • Ensure clean water, maintain a minimum kennel temperature of 18°C, and keep bedding areas clean and dry.
  • Cats should have access to litter trays.

Small Mammals (Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Rats, Mice, Gerbils, Hamsters):

  • Avoid isolating them.
  • Acclimatize animals before offering them for sale.
  • Minimize stress and handling, especially for reptiles.
  • Refer sick or injured animals to a veterinary practitioner.
  • Exercise care with new equipment.

Reptiles and Amphibians:

  • Provide appropriate ventilation, species-specific lighting, and heating.
  • Offer suitable substrate and decor.
  • Don’t keep reptiles in households with children under 5 years.


  • House birds separately with extraction fan systems.
  • Minimize handling.
  • Allow only staff with specialized knowledge to handle birds.
  • Avoid wing pinioning.
  • Provide customers with information on care and feeding, as well as health risks and zoonoses.


  • Maintain suitable water conditions and equipment.
  • Take proper measures to prevent disease spread.
  • Disinfect fish nets daily and regularly check equipment.

For comprehensive information, please view the full “Voluntary Code of Practice for Sellers and Suppliers of Pet Animals.”

Other Considerations When Adopting/Buying a Pet

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine offers valuable advice on factors to consider when thinking about buying or adopting a pet.

Adopting/buying a dog or puppy?

Download and read IPAAG’s Puppy Checklist.

Got Questions?

Should you have any queries or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to or call 01 607 2862. Your pets’ well-being is a priority!

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