Plenty of people have pets in Portugal, but it’s important to realise that attitudes to them are rather different to those you may be used to.
If you walk around a typical Algarve town or village, you’ll undoubtedly see plenty of stray (or seemingly stray) dogs and cats. In the case of many of the dogs, they’re not actually strays at all, but belong to Portuguese owners who let their “pet” out at the start of the day and leave it to do its thing.
Plenty of the animals, however, are genuine strays, and many expats and locals alike are heavily involved in animal shelters and rescue organisations that work to find them homes. With this in mind, if you’re considering adding a pet to your family whilst you are living in Portugal, please go to a shelter, where hundreds of animals are looking for loving homes.
If you want to bring a pet from your old home, things are much easier nowadays thanks to the pet passport scheme. Usually your vet will be able to help you with all the paperwork and micro chipping required.
Getting the animal(s) to Portugal isn’t too difficult either. If you’re driving over, you can take pets on the ferry routes, and there are plenty of specialist pet transport services in operation too. Flights are more complicated, with only certain airlines carrying pets—so make sure you do your homework if this is your preferred strategy. Needless to say, transporting pets always comes at a price, as does organising the required paperwork!
You should have no problem finding a reliable vet to look after your animals, as there are plenty in every large town. If you assume that costs will be similar to (or slightly lower than) costs in the UK, you shouldn’t be in for too much of a shock, but plenty of animal lovers still joke that looking after their pets costs them more than looking after themselves!
Portugal can sometimes seem a little behind the times in terms of attitudes to animal welfare, especially in rural areas where dogs, especially, are often free to run wild. However, attitudes are changing, and many people are committed to rehousing pets and making sure they get the love and care they deserve.