10 Reasons Switzerland Is a Great Place to Be a Pet

Switzerland is a fairly small country, but it stills boasts an estimated seven million pets living there, not including the farm animals that dot the countryside. Although far from perfect, it has a long history of improving the working and living conditions for animals within the country, including landmark legislation in 1992 when it became the first country to include animal rights in their constitution. Specifically, it included a provision that allowed for the protection of animal dignity.

Then, in 2008, Switzerland introduced a bevy of new animal rights regulations that went even further. With that in mind, here are some of the more interesting laws that Switzerland has put in place to improve the lives of animals in their midst.

1. Guinea pigs must live with or have regular playdates with other members of their species. They can get lonely if they don’t have a companion. Since guinea pigs often don’t live the exact same amount of time, matchmaking services have sprouted up in the country to make sure they are not alone.

By Antoine Beauvillain via StockSnap.io

By Antoine Beauvillain via StockSnap.io

2. The Swiss have your cat’s social life in mind, too — if a cat doesn’t have a feline companion at home, he or she must be able to go outside to socialize with others, or at the very least, be able to see other cats from home.

3. Surprisingly, goldfish must also have friends to swim around with. The Swiss believe it is cruel to have them live alone in a small fish bowl, as they are actually social animals.

4. Rabbits’ enclosures must have a dark area that they can retreat to, if they feel the need. Rabbits are very particular about their space, and having a dark area of their enclosure helps ensure that bunnies are happy and less stressed.

5. Fish must live in aquariums that experience natural day and night cycles, and have at least one opaque side.

By Marvin Meyer via StockSnap.io

By Marvin Meyer via StockSnap.io

6. Before bringing a dog into a new home, a person must provide a certificate of competence demonstrating that they know how to deal with and treat dogs. If they can prove that they’ve already had a dog, though, they’re off the hook.

7. Dogs have to be exercised daily, according to what they need, and, as much as possible, off leash. Everyone knows that different dogs have different levels of energy, so whether someone has a lazy Great Dane who just wants to walk around the block, or a bouncing terrier who needs to run, the law accounts for it.

8. Dogs that are tied up must be able to run around freely for at least five hours a day, and the rest of the time, must be able to move around in at least 20 square meters of space. While this may not seem ideal, since dogs are still allowed to be tied up, it means that there’s a national law on the side of the pet if the owner is using a choke chain or the dog is not getting time to run around freely.

By Isaac Benhesed

By Isaac Benhesed

9. Parrots, also considered social creatures, are required to have a companion to spend their days with. The legislation can be eye-opening in how many creatures need others of their own kind to have a relaxed and happy life as a companion to people.

10. Clipping the ears or tails of dogs is not allowed. It is considered undue pain and damage, and dogs get to live out their days with their natural floppy ears and wagging tails.

While Switzerland, like most other countries, are far from achieving perfect animal welfare laws and enforcement, they have made some good progress that other countries would do well to keep an eye on.

Photo credit: Laura Burge, author


Marie W
Marie W1 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Melania P
Melania P1 years ago

Switzerland is a great country for animals and for people, they don't live in the dark ages as others. And even if they have a law as Sebastian J is saying, Switzerland is among the best places to live on the planet. I think it is in the top 10.

Anne P
Anne P1 years ago

My understanding is that there is a law/regulation that decrees a cat thta is past 200 meters from its house may be shot or otherwise killed.

If I am mistaken, please correct.

Essentially, my cats who had escaped briefly from the house could have been tossed back as carcasses
If I am correct, then no, I don't think Switzerland is a great place for cats

heather g
heather g1 years ago

I'd love to live in a country which makes sensible laws - particularly about the rights of pets.

Margie FOURIE1 years ago

Every person who wants an animal should have an animal competancy certidicate.

Danuta W
Danuta Watola1 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Greta H
Past Member 1 years ago

thanks for sharing

Lenore K
Lenore K1 years ago


Teresa A
Teresa Antela1 years ago


Ruth C
Ruth C1 years ago

There are good and bad people all over the world!