Pets and Animals
Understand pet owners’ responsibilities relating to pet registration, vets, lost and found cats and dogs, travelling with pets, and dangerous animals...
Domestic pets in Malta are separated into three categories:
- Category 1: Dogs and cats
- Category 2: Ferrets
- Category 3: Mammals (rodents and domestic rabbits), birds (except poultry), invertebrates, ornamental tropical fish, amphibians and reptiles.
Find a list of prohibited animals for sale and import to Malta.
Pet Ownership Laws
Dogs should be injected with a polyvalent vaccine against distemper, canine adenovirus, parvovirus, kennel cough, leptospira, parainfluenza and coronavirus. Although not necessary within Malta, a rabies vaccination is a legal requirement if a dog or cat is to leave the country.
Vaccinations are given to puppies in stages, usually over three to four weeks. Boosters are advisable each year.
Microchipping is obligatory for dogs over the age of four months, and all dogs must be licensed and registered with the government livestock database. This includes chipped dogs moving to Malta. Microchipping and registration can be carried out by a veterinarian, who inserts the microchip and registers the dog. The licence is then sent to the dog owner by post.
- Read more about the regulations relating to dog identification in Malta
Dogs must be kept on a leash in public places and wear an ID tag with the contact number of the owner.
Dogs are prohibited on sandy beaches and from official 'bathing zones'; however, they are allowed on rocky beaches.
Dog faeces must be removed by the owner of the dog and a clean bag for doing so must be carried at all times. Not carrying a clean bag or clearing up after a dog may result in a fine.
Restricted Dog Breeds
Attacks on members of the public and children in particular have led to legislation against owning certain breeds of dog in Malta.
Forbidden dog breeds in Malta are:
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- Tosa Inu
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
Find further information about laws relating to dog ownership in Malta.
Buying and Selling Pets
Pets can be purchased from a shop or a breeder. Strict laws have been put in place to safeguard animal welfare in these premises.
- It is illegal to sell puppies and kitten under eight weeks of age. It is also illegal to sell rabbits under four weeks
- No trader may stock, keep, sell or offer for sale any animal without the relevant licence from the veterinary service. The licence (or a copy of it) must be displayed in a prominent position on the premises
- It is illegal to sell animals to minors under the age of 16 unless written consent from a parent or guardian is presented
Find detailed information on animal welfare in pet shops and the legislation regarding their sale (PDF)
Anyone wishing to adopt an animal can re-home one from a rescue centre. There are many centres and groups in Malta, including:
- Adopting Malta
- Association for Abandoned Animals
- Animal Care Malta
- Animal Rights Group
- Malta Feline Guardians Club
- Funny Farm Horse Rescue
- Noah's Ark
- Rescue Me
- Stray Animals Support Group
- The Island Sanctuary
Threats to Pets
Pets can be susceptible to many illnesses, diseases and parasites. A few of the most common to be found in Malta are listed below:
Fleas – Small biting parasites that cause irritation, blood loss and can pass on tapeworms.
Ticks – External parasites that embed themselves in the flesh and live off blood.
Leishmaniasis (Sandfly) – Common in Malta. A parasitic disease caused by the bites of phlebotomine sandflies which affects the immune system of a dog and can be fatal. This disease is more common between May and September. A vaccine is now available against the disease.
Worms – These can be picked up from the environment, and through the mother's milk in the case of puppies. It can result in suffering and death in both cats and dogs. Tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms are common.
Moth larvae and caterpillars – Although the infamous processionary moth caterpillar is not found in Malta, there are other moth larvae with urticating hairs (or bristles). Although these are not as invasive as the processionary, owners should keep their dogs away from caterpillars originating from Ruby Tiger Moths (found in garrigue scrubland), Vapourer Moths or Busuf (almond trees), Oak Eggar or Lappet Moths (feeds on oak, ivy and buckthorn leaves) and Grass Eggar Moths (feeds on grass).
- Find a comprehensive glossary appertaining to pet health (see under infectious diseases)