The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (Scotland) Regulations 2021: guidance for pet sellers

This guidance applies in Scotland only, and is issued by the Scottish Ministers to assist applicants for or holders of a pet sellers licence to understand the requirements of the new Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (Scotland) Regulations 2021.

Annex B

Guidance on activity specific conditions - pet selling

1. Definitions

"prospective owner" means a person who seeks to purchase an animal to be kept or to be resold as a pet.

"premises" means the premises specified in the licence and on which the licensable activity of selling animals as pets, as described in paragraph 1 of schedule 1 of the Regulations is carried on.

"purchaser" means a person who purchases an animal to be kept or to be resold as a pet.

2. Records and advertisements

Condition: A register must be maintained for all the animals or, in the case of fish or other animals (not including dogs and cats) kept in groups where it is not practicable to keep individual records, all the groups of such animals, on the premises which must include—

(a) the full name of the supplier of the animal,

(b) the animal's sex (where known),

(c) (except in the case of fish) the animal's age (where known),

(d) details of any veterinary treatment (where known),

(e) the date of birth of the animal or, if the animal was acquired by the licence holder, the date of its acquisition,

(f) the date of sale of the animal by the licence holder,

(g) the date of the animal's death (if applicable), and

(h) the animal's microchip number (if any).


The information to be recorded and retained by licence holders is set out above. Where a licence holder is failing to record the information required under licence, the local authority may take such action as it considers necessary to address the situation. It is recognised however that for certain types of animal, for example small furries (gerbils, hamsters etc.) bought in batches for resale, licence holders may not know an animal's exact date of birth or its precise age. In such circumstances so long as the licence holder can demonstrate that all known information is being recorded then this is likely to satisfy the local authority.

For fish sales the acceptable minimum for a licence holder to record is the type of fish sold, i.e. tropical marine, tropical freshwater or cold water along with the number of each sold per day. For example: on [date] sales were: 15 cold water and 10 tropical freshwater; total fish sales for the day 20. For fish, deaths should be recorded when mortality exceeds 5% of a fish type on site, over a 24 hour period. As for all records this information needs to be retained for 3 years.

The register must be a stand-alone dedicated document. This can be a centralised system, but must either be accessible in store or be readily and promptly made available to an inspector upon request. The register may be in electronic or paper format. Registers must be inspected on site, treated in confidence and not routinely removed from the licensed premises. Regulation 24 does however provide inspectors with powers to copy or remove registers where there is cause to suspect that an offence has been committed.

The register must contain sufficient detail as to allow identification of the supplier of the animals.

Condition: Where an animal is undergoing any medical treatment—

(a) this fact must be clearly indicated—

(i) in writing next to it, or

(ii) (where appropriate) by labelling it accordingly,

if it is on display in the premises for the purposes of being sold, and

(b)it may only be sold to a prospective owner if—

(i) a veterinary surgeon advises that the animal is in a suitable condition to be rehomed, and

(ii) details of, and the reasons for, the treatment are communicated to the prospective owner prior to the sale.


As a licence holder you must not sell any animal that is undergoing any medical treatment unless a veterinarian confirms that it is in a fit state to be rehomed. Licence holders should retain proof of such advice and this should be shared with any prospective owner or purchaser along with reasons for the treatment. Licence holders should be able to demonstrate to the local authority the procedures that are in place to ensure that an animal undergoing treatment that makes it unsuitable for sale is clearly identified, segregated where necessary and not sold.

For clarity, medical treatment does not include routine, preventative measures such as the administration of wormers or flea/tick treatments, unless a veterinary surgeon advises otherwise.

Condition: Any advertisement for the sale of an animal must—

- include the number of the licence holder's licence,

- specify the local authority that issued the licence,

- if the animal being advertised is a dog or cat, include a recognisable photograph of the animal,

- (except in the case of fish) display the age of the animal being advertised,

- state the country of residence of the animal from which it is being sold, and

- state the country of origin of the animal.


For the avoidance of doubt, "any advertisement" includes ads placed on social media platforms, ad sites like Gumtree, Pets4Homes etc., and any other web site on which the licence holder advertises animals for sale to the public.

Where an ad is for a dog or cat that is for sale, the ad must include a recognisable photograph of the animal for sale.

The country of origin must refer to the country of birth of the specific animal. Where this is not known, the country of export of the specific animal may be used.

3. Prospective sales: pet care and advice

Condition: Any equipment and accessories being sold with an animal must be suitable for the animal.


As a licensed pet seller you must only stock and supply equipment and accessories that are designed for and are suitable for the particular animal or animals being sold.

Condition: The purchaser must be provided with information on the appropriate care of the animal including in relation to—

a) feeding,

b) housing,

c) handling,

d) husbandry,

e) the life expectancy of its species,

f) the provision of suitable accessories, and

g) veterinary care.


Licence holders are required to provide pet purchasers with appropriate and accurate advice on the care of any animal sold. The information provided must, as a minimum, include that set out in the box above. Only suitably qualified or experienced staff should provide such advice. Pet care advice may be in the form of pet care leaflets or other similar written or electronic instructions, given at the point of sale to the purchaser.

Ideally, any advice given by licence holders should outline the 5 Welfare Needs of Animals and make reference to an owner's legal obligations under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006. Advice on microchipping should also be covered where appropriate.

In particular, licence holders must provide the following information for each of the animals below:


Information provided to the purchaser must include advice on updating microchip database registration, vaccinations, routine worming, socialisation and neutering. A transitional feeding schedule must also be provided showing the day by day ratio if changing puppies on to a different food. A puppy contract and puppy information pack must be provided at the point of sale.


This must include advice on, vaccinations, worming, socialisation and neutering. A transitional feeding schedule must also be provided showing the day by day ratio if changing kittens on to a different food.

Note: holders of a pet selling licence can only sell puppies or kittens that they have bred themselves. Where a licensed pet seller is selling puppies or kittens (defined in the regulations as a dog or cat under 6 months old) the authority should seek evidence to confirm that the seller is indeed the breeder. If they are breeding more than 3 litters of pups or kittens in any 12 month period they must hold a dog or cat breeding licence.


Where sold singly, the licence holder and/or staff must ask if the purchaser owns a compatible conspecific and if not, encourage them to purchase one, or check that they have a care plan in place for a single housed rabbit. This must also include advice on vaccinations and reproductive health care.


This must include advice on vaccinations, socialisation and reproductive management.


Advice must be given on enclosure setup, lighting, appropriate environmental conditions and dietary and water requirements. Advice on common ailments and how to spot and treat these should be provided.


Advice must cover feeding and appropriate feed types, aquarium setup and maintenance, the importance of water quality to fish health, compatible and incompatible fish species and stocking densities. Purchasers of fish should be signposted to relevant online resources such as the web site of the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association. Licence holders should ensure that when fish are being sold any tank and equipment also purchased is appropriate for the type of fish and the numbers of fish being purchased in order to ensure that the recommended stocking density is not likely to be exceeded.

Condition: Appropriate reference materials on the care of all animals for sale must be—

(a) on display and available to be consulted by prospective owners in the premises, or

(b) provided to prospective owners in an electronic format,

if the licensable activity is conducted in a way that involves persons attending the premises to view animals available for sale as pets, or otherwise in relation to arranging the purchase of animals as pets.


Information could include Codes of Practice issued by Government, animal welfare organisations, industry bodies or the veterinary profession.

Condition: The licence holder and all staff must have been suitably trained to advise prospective owners about the animals being sold.


Licence holders and any staff employed must be suitably experienced, knowledgeable and appropriately trained to advise prospective purchasers about an animal in which they are interested and its long-term needs and care. This could be evidenced, for example, through the provision of an established and ongoing staff training program or the holding of a recognised, relevant qualification.

Condition: The purchaser must be informed of, where known, the country of origin, age, sex and veterinary record of the animal being sold.


Licence holders should ensure that they retain records sufficient to capture the above information so that it may be provided to a purchaser. Local authorities when inspecting a premises may seek assurances/evidence that the required information is being recorded and passed on to purchasers. It is recognised however that it may not be possible to provide the age and/or sex for all animals being sold under licence, for example fish.

4. Suitable accommodation

Condition: Animals must be kept in housing which minimises stress including from other animals and the public.


Housing or other accommodation must be suitable for the species/animals kept. It must have lighting and ventilation appropriate for the needs of the animal/species and offer the animals a sense of security where appropriate. For dogs and cats particularly, the design and layout of accommodation should be such that the animal can control visual contact with its surroundings and animals in other enclosures.

Generally speaking, animals presented for sale by pet sellers only remain on the premises from which they are being sold for a relatively short period of time. Whilst on site they must however be kept in housing that provides each animal with sufficient space to stretch out, turn around unimpeded, and, where applicable, lie down fully stretched out without touching any other animal in the enclosure. The minimum enclosure/cage sizes (where these are used) that apply to all the licensable activities are as specified in Annex C.

Condition: Where members of the public can view or come into contact with the animals, signage must be in place to deter disturbance of the animals.


If animals are on public display, signs must be displayed on enclosures to deter members of the public from tapping on glass or poking fingers into cages.

Clear signage should be in place at all times outlining health and safety risk to customers and appropriate behaviour around animals on the premises relevant to the specific species. In addition to signs, other measures may be required, such as limiting access to some animal enclosures. The licence holder must ensure that no animal is handled by the public without the licence holder's or a staff member's supervision. Signs should inform the public that they should not handle an animal without first speaking to the licence holder or a member of staff.

Condition: Dangerous wild animals (if any) must be kept in secure accommodation that is lockable and appropriate for the species.


For species listed in the first column of the schedule of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (DWAA), licence holders must be able to demonstrate to the local authority that the safety of staff and the general public has been considered in the design of the enclosures, layout of the premises where the animals are kept, and in the design of any safety barriers that may be present.

Design must also demonstrate that prevention of escape has been considered and addressed. Licence holders selling animals on the Schedule to the DWAA must inform the purchaser that they require a licence under the DWAA and also inform the issuing authority of the details of the purchase.

Whilst pet shops are exempt from the DWAA, consideration must be given to complying with any special requirement(s) specified in the DWAA for the safe accommodation and care of any DWAA listed animal. The licence holder must demonstrate that effective plans are in place to deal with the escape of any dangerous wild animal.

5. Training and exercise

Condition: For species whose welfare depends partly on exercise, opportunities to exercise which benefit the animals' physical and mental health must be provided, unless advice from a veterinary surgeon recommends otherwise.


While it is recognised that animals kept for sale may only be on the premises for a short length of time, licence holders must be able to demonstrate to the licensing authority that where it is necessary for an animal's physical and mental wellbeing there are designated areas where animals can play and exercise. Periods of exercise should include social interaction with animals of the same species where this clearly benefits an animal's welfare. For birds kept in aviaries or animals kept in enclosures the provision of appropriate environmental enrichment (physical stimuli) would be acceptable and should be encouraged.

Condition: All immature animals must be given suitable and adequate opportunities to learn how to—

(a) interact with people, their own species and other animals where such interaction benefits their welfare, and

(b) become habituated to noises, objects and activities associated with a domestic environment.

Condition: The animals must have at least daily opportunities to interact with people where such interaction benefits their welfare.


For animals destined to be sold as pets, interaction with and habituation to people, noise and other stimuli is important. Licence holders must be able to demonstrate therefore that they understand the need to provide regular opportunities to allow for such interaction and habituation and that they have the time, staff and, where appropriate, the required facilities to facilitate this.

6. Sale of animals

Condition: No animal of any of the following descriptions may be sold as a pet, or sold with a view to being resold as a pet, by or on behalf of the licence holder—

a) unweaned mammals,

b) mammals weaned at an age at which they should not have been weaned,

c) non-mammals that are incapable of feeding themselves,

d) puppies, kittens, ferrets or kits, aged under 8 weeks, and

e) puppies or kittens which were not bred by the licence holder.


Puppies and kittens can only be sold in the course of a business by the person responsible for breeding them. The breeder must be the person named as the licence holder on the pet selling licence. If the holder of a pet selling licence is also a regular breeder of dogs and cats (3 or more litters in any 12-month period) then they must be licenced as a breeder and comply with the conditions of that licence.

In order to demonstrate that you are the breeder of any puppies or kittens that you offer for sale, the holder of a pet selling licence must be able to provide evidence to the local authority, when requested to do so, that they had control over the decisions made for the complete reproductive process from dam/sire selection, conception and gestation to birth. Where requested local authorities must be shown records of the mating(s), including the location of mating/fertilisation, the identity of the sire (where known), as well as being shown where the animals are or will be born, reared and kept until sale. Where the holder of a pet selling licence is also a licenced breeder of dogs or cats, they must comply with the conditions on that licence regarding record keeping.

Licence holders selling puppies or kittens that they have bred (but who are not licenced as breeders due to not meeting the criteria for licensing) should retain other supporting evidence such as photographs, microchip and veterinary records to show that they housed and cared for the young and their mother for the first 8 weeks of their life.

Condition: The sale of a dog or a cat must be completed in the presence of the purchaser on the premises.


Where the holder of a pet sellers licence sells dogs or cats (including puppies and kittens) that sale must take place on the premises used by the licence holder for the licensable activity and the purchaser must be on the premises. Where a prospective purchaser of a puppy or kitten wishes to see the animals for sale, but the animals are under 8 weeks old and therefore not able to be sold, they should only be shown to the prospective purchaser if they are with their biological mother and the viewing should be supervised to ensure the safety of the mother and pups.

Condition: No animals or types of animal other than those animals and types of animal specified in the licence may be sold.


Licence holders must only sell the types of animals specified in their licence. Where a licence holder wishes to sell other animal types not specified on the licence they must make a request to the issuing authority to have their licence varied. Before any variation is granted the local authority will need to be satisfied that the holder of the licence has the required facilities, staff ratio and knowledge to both keep and care for the animal in question.

Condition: No animal may be sold in any part of a road or public place or at a point of sale at a market (unless the point of sale at the market forms part of the premises).

Guidance: The sale of animals from these locations is prohibited under the terms of the licence granted.

7. Protection from suffering, injury and disease

Condition: All animals for sale must be in good health.


Licence holders must not knowingly sell any animal that is not fit, healthy or, where applicable, socialised. Where it is clear that an animal that is for sale is not in good physical or mental health it must be removed from sale and provided with appropriate care, including veterinary care where necessary, until it is considered fit for sale. In order to meet this licence obligation the licence holder and any staff employed must be adequately trained and experienced enough to identify when an animal is unsuitable for sale due to ill-health, injury or another form of suffering. Procedures should be in place to deal with ill and injured animals.

Condition: Any animal with a condition which is likely to affect its quality of life must not be moved, transferred or offered for sale but may be moved to an isolation facility or veterinary care facility if required until the animal has recovered.


Licence holders must have provision on the licenced premises or at another nearby suitable facility to isolate any animal with a condition that is likely to be affecting its quality of life, either short-term or long-term. If the animal is to remain on the licensed premises it should be located in a suitably quiet and safe part of the premises which is readily accessible to allow for regular monitoring of its condition. Veterinary opinion should be sought where necessary, and must be sought, except in the case of fish, where it is clear that the animals condition is long-term or unlikely to improve. If the animal requires to be transported to a veterinary facility then it should be done in a manner that minimises the stress on the animal.

Condition: When arranging for the receipt of animals, the licence holder must make reasonable efforts to ensure that they will be transported in a suitable manner.

Condition: When an animal is to be transported or handed to a purchaser in a container, the container must be suitable for the species and expected duration of the journey.


In a suitable manner means, in a manner that ensures the animal is safe from harm, unable to escape and has both space and ventilation commensurate with the animal type and distance to be travelled. The licence holder should be able to demonstrate that any containers used meet these requirements. All reasonable steps should be taken to minimise the stress on the animal during transportation.

Where fish are being sold or transported any containers used must contain a sufficient oxygen supply for the duration of the journey plus some contingency. They must contain appropriate quantities of water and be suitably insulated to protect against large fluctuations in temperature. Ideally, fish should be transported in specifically designed fish transportation bags and these should be made available to any purchaser of fish. For longer journeys consideration should be given to using protective and insulated containers, for example a polystyrene box with a lid. If the purchaser is travelling longer distances oxygen tablets should be used or alternatively an air pump.

Species of fish that may be aggressive to one another must be packed separately. Fish should not be transported with other aquatic species, including invertebrates, aquatic plants, corals etc.



Back to top