Having a pet

Having a pet

The Netherlands is a friendly place for pets (huisdieren). The most common animals are dogs, cats, rabbits, and rodents. But there are some specific rules associated with having a pet. Perhaps you're bringing your pet to The Hague from another country, or you're looking for a new one? Either way, here's everything you need to know about pet care in the Netherlands: from veterinary services and import rules, to additional tax requirements. 

Rules for Pets Entering the Netherlands

Pets are a part of the family and so you may want to bring your pet with you if you’re relocating to The Hague. Make sure that you know the rules around importing your pet, essential medical requirements, and other conditions. 

Dogs, cats, and ferrets travelling from other EU countries must meet certain conditions about age, vaccinations, chips, and documents. Are you bringing a small rodent, rabbit, bird, fish, amphibian, or reptile? They will need a pet’s health certificate signed by a veterinarian. Protected or endangered species are rarely allowed to enter the Netherlands. If in doubt about such animals, contact the Dutch Customs Information at +31 (0)45 574 30 31.

If your animal is travelling from a non-EU country, general EU rules apply, similar to the requirements above. If your animal cost more than €430, you have to pay an import tax.

Travelling With Your Pet

If you're flying with your pet, check which airlines offer the best service for this. Most airlines do take pets, but there are differences in price, conditions, and rules. Many airlines (including KLM, Lufthansa, Continental, and Northwest) offer cargo programmes for pets in special areas of the hold. During any connecting flights, someone will check on your pet, feed them, and give them water. They will also provide you with the necessary information on transporting your pet, so you can prepare for your trip. With some airlines, small dogs and cats may even be allowed with you in the cabin!

Finding a Pet in The Hague

But perhaps you are looking for a new pet in The Hague. If so, you can search in pet shops or for specialised breeders. However, be cautious and make sure to check if your animal has the necessary vaccinations, chips, and documents needed, such as dog registration

Many people choose to adopt pets instead. Most rescue animals can be found at local kennels (dierenasiels), which are usually very well run and help to find homes for a variety of healthy and in-need pets.

Caring for Your Pet

The Hague is an easy place to take care of your animal. Pet food is easily available in most supermarkets and accessories such as toys can be found at animal shops and garden centres. However, there are also certain rules in the Netherlands for animal welfare and pet owners should find a local vet for their animal. 

Vets provide proper care for your pet and they can offer advice about food, medical treatments, and adjusting to life in the Netherlands. They also implant electronic microchips for your pet which is a requirement for dogs, cats, and ferrets – and help return them to you if they are ever lost! Search for a vet (dierenarts) or veterinarian practice (dierenartspraktijk) in your area, or ask around for recommendations. 

If you have to go away on holiday, you may need someone to look after your pet. If you can't find family or friends to do this, look for traditional animal boarding facilities or kennels: a dierenpension or specifically hondenpension (for dogs) or kattenpension (for cats). Or find a professional animal-sitter to care for your pet in your own home by using an app, for example. 

Looking After Your Dog

Dogs are very common (and happy) in The Hague.  In the Netherlands, you are allowed to walk your dog outside almost everywhere – except for playgrounds, playing fields, and sunbathing areas. But remember two important rules: dogs should be on a leash and you should always clean up after your dog. The municipality has more information about this, including a map of areas in The Hague where your dog is and is not allowed. See also many 'free-run' areas, where you can take your dog off its leash: in The Hague, Delft, Rijswijk, and Leidschendam-Voorburg.

Read more about local taxes, including the dog tax. Having pets can sometimes be complicated when it comes to housing. Are you renting? Make sure that the contract allows you to have a pet.