General Rules for Pet Ownership in Italy

Animals in an apartment
Animals are permitted to live in shared blocks of flats as long as they are kept in their owner’s space.Animals can be removed if the rental or purchase contract states that they are prohibited.The resident’s committee cannot prevent a resident from owning an animal even if the committee reaches a unanimous vote,however an animal can be removed for disturbing the peace or for reasons of hygiene.

Dogs and cats may travel in the lift or elevator as long as the regulations permit it to do so.The owner must also ensure that the pet does not damage or mess in the elevator.

  • For more information in Italian from ENPA: Click here (in Italian)
  • Pets on public transport

Small dogs and cats are allowed to travel at no charge on Trenitalia trains,but must be contained in a carrier which has dimensions no larger than 70 by 30 by 50 centimetres.

Larger dogs are allowed to travel on Trenitalia trains,however they must be fitted with a muzzle and leash.They may not occupy a passenger seat or cause a disturbance on the train.

  • On Espressi,IC and ICN trains they may travel in first or second class cars.
  • On regional trains they may travel in the vestibule of the last car,but are prohibited on the train from 07:00-09:00 from Monday to Friday.
  • In sleeping cars (carrozze letto),couchette cars, as well as Excelsior and Excelsior E4 cars, travellers without a reservation transporting an un-caged dog must purchase a half-price second-class ticket for the animal.

All  animals must be accompanied by a certificate or statement from a veterinarian attesting to the fact that the animal does not carry any communicable diseases or infestations (of fleas,ticks,etc.).This certification should not have been issued any more than three months before the travel date.A valid EU Pet Passport is also sufficient.If the animal does not have the accompanying certification,a fine will be payable and the passenger and animal will be ejected from the train at the next stop.Each passenger is only allowed to take onboard one caged animal.

Guide dogs of any size accompanying a blind person are allowed on any train and do not require a veterinarian’s certification regarding diseases or infestations.

Dogs on busses may require a full-priced ticket,depending on the region and operator.

  • The ENPA has a website with information on pets and transport.For more information,Click here (in Italian)

Dog fouling
There is a fine payable for owners caught letting their dogs mess in public places.However the law is commonly not enforced.

Owning a Dog or Cat
Understand pet ownership requirements,health and well being in Italy…

The regional Canine Registry Office (Anagrafe Canina Regionale) provides information on registration,loss,dog adoption and regulations governing pet travel in Italy and to other foreign countries.

It is obligatory for a dog to be identified by microchip and registered with the local Anagrafe.It is not compulsory for a cat to have an identification chip or tattoo but is a voluntary option for owners.Registration can help to trace the animal or owner if a pet is lost.

Dogs that were tattooed before 1 January 2004 need not be microchipped,but Italian law states that the dog must be tattooed on its body as well as on its ear (tattooing is being phased out in favour of the microchip system,which will be compulsory by 2011).Only registered veterinarians may tattoo or microchip an animal.The vet will issue identification papers.

The owner must register the dog within 45 days of its birth or 10 days of acquiring it.Newcomers to the region should register their dogs within 10 days of arrival.A fine may be imposed for the non-registration of a dog.

How to Register a Dog
Registration is made at the veterinary services (Servizi Veterinari) of the local ASL.The owner should take:

  • Proof of identity
  • Tax code (codice fiscale)
  • Proof of the dog’s inoculation and proof of microchip (these documents are provided by the vet)

The Anagrafe Canina must be notified of a change of ownership,change of address or the death of the animal within 10 days.

All dogs must be kept on a lead in public places and dogs considered dangerous must also wear a muzzle.Dogs on public transport must be on a leash and muzzled.

Recommended Vaccinations
Always consult a vet for legal obligations and local threats.A vet will also be able to advise on treatment to prevent ticks and tapeworm.

  • Dogs should be vaccinated against hepatitis,distemper and kennel cough
  • Cats should be protected from feline gastro-enteritis and typhus

Pets lost and found
Dogs must have microchip implanted and be registered with current contact information so that the owners can be traced.

A found dog should be taken to a refuge,police station or vet.The latter two are more likely to be able to read the chip/tattoo and return it to the owner.If a found dog is not registered it may be euthanised.

There is also an area for animals which have been lost (for owners trying to find them).

Dangerous dogs

It is a requirement in Italy for dogs which are classified as «naturally aggressive breeds» to be kept on a lead in public areas and to wear a muzzle.Dangerous dogs must also be covered by Third party insurance.

Dogs included in this classification are:

  • Pit bull
  • American Bulldog
  • Rottweiler
  • Tosa Inu
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Dogo Argentino

People under 18 or anyone with a criminal record may not own a dangerous breed.

  • For a full list of dangerous dog breeds from the Italian Ministry of Health:Click here (in Italian)

Pet Threats and Dangers
Be aware of the possible dangers and threats to your cat or dog in Italy…

There are certain insects,diseases and practices that present a danger to animals in Italy.These pet threats tend to be regional so it’s advisable to discuss the local dangers with a vet.However,here are some of the most significant threats.

  • For information from ENPA regarding the various hazards a pet may encounter in Italy:Click here (in Italian)

The Italian Ministry of Health website has information on animal health and diseases

  • For the Italian Ministry of Health website:Click here (in Italian)

Leishmaniasis is a disease that mainly affects domestic dogs.It is carried by a small,yellow fly that resembles a mosquito and is around two to three millimeters long.Mediterranean countries,and Italy in particular,are severely affected by this disease.In the south of the country the problem has grown to endemic proportions.

Dogs can incubate Leishmaniasis for over a year before displaying symptoms,which vary from dog to dog.One clue is when the hair around a dog’s eyes drops out and claws grow abnormally.Infected animals will lose weight,become anaemic and often display symptoms of renal failure.If medical help is not sought,the dog will die after several months.

Fly repellents which prevent the flies from biting are available (usually at a vet surgery) and should be used to protect against this disease from spring to autumn,when the risk is highest.Alternatively,keep dogs inside after dusk when the flies are most active.

Ticks (Zecche)
Ticks are external parasites that mainly affect dogs and cats, but horses are also at risk.Animals are most at risk during the summer months when ticks latch on to dogs out walking in meadows,woods and rural areas,especially if there are sheep in the vicinity.The ears,neck and head of the animal are the most vulnerable areas.In the case of tick infestation,apply alcohol and wait for the tick to loosen its grip before using tweezers to pry the parasite off with a twisting action,very close to the skin.Never try to grab hold of the tick by its body.Potentially poisonous contents of the tick’s stomach may be injected into the animal.

Ticks are vectors of Lyme disease,Ehrlichia,Babesiosis and other related illnesses.Ask a vet for advice on how to repel ticks.Also try to avoid walking dogs in areas where ticks could be present.

Fleas (Pulci)
These parasites affect domestic animals including dogs,cats,rabbits and ferrets.Fleas can transmit Dipylidium Caninum and flea bites can cause dermatitis when there is an allergic reaction to flea saliva.Flea treatments differ depending on the kind of pet owned.Ask a vet for recommendations.

Thousands of wild and domestic animals are killed every year in Italy by poisoned bait left in the countryside,woods and cities.Lazio has been particularly affected.The poison is intended for species that are considered a nuisance.It has been reported that some truffle pickers set out poison for truffle dogs owned by their competitors,which also results in the poisoning of pet dogs.Eating an animal that has died of poisoning can also prove fatal to pets.It is advisable to keep dogs on a lead when in the countryside and keep pet cats in the house.

Although these snakes are «shy»,care must still be taken when in the countryside with dogs or horses.A viper bite will cause dilated pupils, muscle spasms,respiratory difficulties,hypothermia and eventually death.Bites can lead to sudden death if the bite has injected venom directly into a vein.Seek veterinary assistance immediately.

Hornets, bees and wasps
Several hornet stings can prove fatal to a domestic animal and nests should always be avoided.Stings may cause swelling of the affected area and possible anaphylactic shock.Hornets’ nests should be removed immediately by professionals.

Pine processionary caterpillars
The processionary pine caterpillar (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) is usually three to four centimetres long, brown and hairy.At the start of spring the caterpillars come out of round,white,fuzzy nests built in pine trees (normally property owners will burn these nests if they see them) and travel down the tree and across the ground in single file,sometimes stopping in writhing circles.This phenomenon can continue well into the summer.

These caterpillars are extremely dangerous as they «burn» the flesh of any animal,child or person that touches them.A small animal can even die from the burn on contact.They are especially present at the start of spring.If a pet comes in to contact with these caterpillars it is advisable to seek veterinary assistance immediately.

  • For comprehensive information on processionary pine catepillars: Click here

Italy does have some scorpions,though they rarely grow larger than five centimetres long.They tend to live in damp places as well as in walls and under rocks.Seek veterinary assistance in the event of a scorpion sting.

Sun and heat stroke
Sun stroke occurs in animals that have suffered over-exposure to the sun’s rays,occurring most commonly when a dog has spent too much time on the beach.

Heat stroke is caused when an animal is exposed to high temperatures in closed environments such as a car or shed.Obese and older animals are more prone to this condition and it can be fatal.If a pet is suffering from heat stroke,immerse them in cold water to cool their body as soon as possible.

Graminaceous plants
The spines of these plants can be dangerous to dogs and other domestic animals if they migrate into cavities such as the ears.The sharp spine can puncture skin,particularly the spaces between toes and folds in skin.Avoid walking dogs in areas where barley and other such plants grow.If a dog begins to sneeze rapidly or shake its head repeatedly,inspect the nasal cavity,toes,mouth and ears for spines.

Related Information

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