Policy actions  2 of 4

Animal welfare

We ensure the welfare needs of animals are met by placing a duty of care on the people responsible.

The welfare of all protected animals is provided for under the Animal Health and Welfare Scotland (Act) 2006. The act places a duty of care on pet owners and others responsible for animals to ensure that the welfare needs of their animals are met. We produced supplementary information in the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act guidance

Animal health and welfare strategy

The animal health and welfare in the livestock industry: strategy 2016 to 2021 is a five-year strategy, tailored to Scotland's needs. The strategy was prepared in consultation with farming organisations, animal welfare organisations and scientists.

Animal welfare codes and guidance

Welfare of farmed animals

We produce a series of guides on the welfare of animals:

Welfare of pet animals

We produce a series of guides on the welfare of pet animals:

Welfare of animals at slaughter

There are a number of laws that govern animal slaughter in Scotland. We have recently consulted on introducing compulsory CCTV in abattoirs.


The use of wild animals in travelling circuses is banned in Scotland under the Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (Scotland) Act 2018. We have produced guidance to accompany the law.

Material relating to the development of this policy on wild animals in circuses is available on the gov.scot archive.

Performing animals

Anyone exhibiting or training a performing animal for other public displays (except for military, police, agricultural or sporting purposes) should continue to register with their local authority under Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925.

We are considering how to update this legislation, in response to the growing number of mobile animal 'experiences', including animals being taken into schools and various other types of mobile zoo or animal encounter which can raise welfare concerns about the way these animals are trained, handled, transported and accommodated.

We are supporting research to obtain more information about current mobile animal experiences of all types in Scotland. The research is a collaboration between the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh and the Scottish SPCA.


Guidance on the licensing, inspection and dispensation of zoos in Scotland is available.

Dangerous wild animals

The keeping of dangerous wild animals is regulated by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. It aims to protect the public and to ensure that the animals are properly cared for.

The Act defines a dangerous wild animal and includes animals such as lions, chimpanzees, crocodiles, and certain venomous snakes and spiders. 

Further information: 

Animal sanctuaries

We are currently developing legislation in this area having consulted in 2018 on the registration and licensing of animal sanctuaries and rehoming activities in Scotland