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Financial Tips for Keeping Dogs, Cats and other Pets in Switzerland

August 29, 2022 - Daniel Dreier

Are you planning to get a dog, cat, or other pets? Find the most important financial tips for pet keepers in Switzerland here.

Getting and keeping pets in Switzerland can seem expensive and complicated. Here, explains how to keep pets in Switzerland without overspending or exposing yourself to financial risks.

1.  Be realistic about the costs

It is important to have a realistic idea of what owning a pet actually costs. There are the initial costs of acquiring the pets themselves and buying pet equipment. Dog keepers also have the cost of mandatory courses (in some cantons), and the required dog registration. If you want to vaccinate your pets (in order to travel with them, for example), then that adds another one-time cost. 

In addition to these, you also need to calculate the total ongoing costs across the full pet-keeping period. Depending on which kind of pets you have, ongoing costs may include food, sanitation, replacing housing and other equipment, municipal dog taxes, veterinary care, grooming, transportation, and pet insurance premiums.

Pet-related expenses can go up over time as your pets get older and develop more special needs. Only get a pet if you can easily afford to properly care for them.

2. Look for pets who need a home

Pets typically come with high price tags in Switzerland. It is not uncommon to see cats being offered for hundreds of francs, and dogs being sold for thousands. It is all the more surprising then that many kinds of pets can occasionally be found free of charge on classifieds websites. Unexpected offspring, a move, and conflicts with other pets are just some reasons why people give pets away. 

While there is no guarantee that you will find the pet you want being offered at any given time, running a quick search on classified sites like Anibis, Tier-Inserate, and Tutti is always a good first move. Swiss animal shelters tend to charge fairly high adoption fees, but from time to time they have pets which can be adopted without fees.

3. Be wary of binding agreements

Some animal shelters and private individuals will only sell you pets if you sign an agreement in which you promise to fulfill certain obligations. These typically include expensive procedures such as sterilization and/or registering and chipping animals for which these measures are not required by law. Unless you would do these things anyway, you can save money by steering away from these kinds of contracts.

4. Cut the costs of pet equipment

Cat playgrounds, dog collars, kitten toys, rabbit runs and bird cages all have one thing in common: High price tags. Some equipment – such as leashes for all dogs and muzzles for dogs that bite – is mandatory in Switzerland.

Buying second-hand, finding the lowest prices, and crafting equipment yourself can drastically lower your costs. Pet equipment in good condition is often offered on classifieds websites for well below the store price-tags, and occasionally even for free. For new equipment, price comparison websites make it easy to find good deals.

5. Streamline your pet food spending

Just like when you buy groceries for yourself, when you buy brand-name pet food, you are paying a markup for the brand name. Supermarkets like Coop and Migros offer their own budget brands of pet food, and these can cost over four times less than brand-name products at the same stores. The same applies to cat litter and other pet sanitation products.

If you have rabbits, guinea pigs, or other animals which require hay and straw, it is worth noting that many Swiss farm stores package and sell these for pet keepers. The prices are generally much more favorable than those charged by supermarkets and pet supply shops.

6. Groom your pet yourself

Regularly taking your pet to a salon for grooming is easy and convenient, but very expensive. Learning how to style your dog or other pet may take an initial investment of time, but over the long term, it can save you hundreds or even thousands of francs.

There are numerous websites and books on how to groom various kinds of pets. Video streaming platforms like Youtube are another good place to find tutorials.

7. Use free pet sitters

Paying a pet home or professional pet sitter to look after your pets when you go on vacation can be very expensive.

Getting a friend or neighbor to care for your pets can be completely free. There are many people who like to spend time with animals but for various reasons do not have their own pets. By posting advertisements at local supermarkets and on classifieds websites, you may just find a reliable person who will care for your pets for free while you are away.

If you are more adventurous, you can also look into housesitters. In this arrangement, you let travelers use your home while you are away, and they take care of your pets in exchange. You can connect with potential housesitters on websites like House Carers, Nomador, Mind My House, Trusted House Sitters, and others.

8. Cut public transportation costs

In Switzerland, you have to get large pets a ticket for public transportation if you want them to ride with you. The fare is half the price of a standard ticket, and that can add up to a lot of money if you use public transportation often. In that case, getting an annual pass (350 francs) can work out much cheaper than getting numerous single-use tickets. Day passes (25 francs) are also an option if you only travel occasionally, but on long trips.

Pets which are less than 30 centimeters tall – including small dogs – can travel free of charge if kept inside a container. As long as your pet is short enough and does not mind sitting in a carry bag or basket, you do not have to buy them a ticket. If you travel a lot, it can be worth investing in a purpose-made carry bag for your pet(s).

9. Use the right personal liability insurance

Personal liability insurance covers legal liability for damages or injuries to third parties by your dog or other pet. It also covers accidental damages to rented homes which result from keeping pets. Dog keepers in all cantons except for Jura, Neuchâtel, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Uri, and Zug, are required by law to have personal liability insurance. Even if you live in other cantons, having it is generally a good idea.

All Swiss personal liability insurance offers cover liability for damages or injuries to third parties by your conventional pets (including dogs). But horses, animals kept as livestock, and animals which are legally designated as dangerous (venomous animals and monitor lizards, among others) are not always insured by default. This is also true if you take care of other people’s pets or ride horses which do not belong to you. Your liability for injuries to the owners of the animals you take care of is not covered by all personal liability insurance offers.

When you get a new pet, it is worth checking whether your existing personal liability insurance covers them. If your insurance provider does not give you the option of insuring your pets, it may be worth moving to a different insurance provider which has this coverage. You should also make sure to get properly insured before caring for other people’s pets.

10. Claim on your household insurance

From an insurance perspective, pets are considered to be your personal property. If you have household insurance, you can claim compensation if your pet is stolen, or if covered hazards result in your pet dying.

Household insurance may come with “assistance” benefits which may also cover the costs of keeping pets at animal hostels or pet sitters, up to certain limits, when your home is damaged by fire, flooding, or other covered hazards.

If you keep aquatic animals, it is worth noting that damages to your personal property caused by leaking aquariums are also generally covered by household insurance.

11. Calculate the real benefits of pet insurance

Many pet-supply shops, pet clubs, and veterinarians advertise pet insurance which covers the veterinary expenses of cats, dogs, horses, and some other pets. The coverage provided varies somewhat between insurance offers, but pet insurance is generally fairly expensive. 

In some cases, getting this insurance makes financial sense, but in many cases it does not. You can use the pet insurance calculator on to find out whether getting insurance is worth it based on your expected veterinary costs.

You can compare the costs and coverages of Swiss pet insurance offers based on your pet’s age using the interactive Swiss pet insurance comparison on

12. Avoid fines

Keeping pets in Switzerland exposes you to numerous opportunities to get fined. Here are just a few examples:

  • Not getting the right public transportation ticket for your pet. 

  • Not properly collecting and disposing of your dog’s excrement.

  • Not following cantonal rules dictating which dogs must be muzzled, and where.

  • Not following cantonal rules about dog breeds which require special licenses (generally only for long stays of more than 30 days per year).

  • Not registering a dog with the Swiss database of dog owners (Amicus). 

  • Not registering a dog with your municipality.

  • Not informing Amicus and your municipality about changes of address, changes of ownership, or the death of your dog.

  • Trying to import dogs with docked tails or cropped ears (exceptions apply to new residents importing their existing pets).

  • Entering Switzerland without the required rabies vaccinations and necessary documents.

But it is not just dogs which put you at risk of fines. There are laws which define how most common pets must be kept, housed, cared for, and socialized. The law which stipulates that guinea pigs must always be kept in pairs for company is just one example. Breaking these laws can land you fines or result in your pets being taken away from you. You can find the rules for most common pets here.

13. Think twice before getting your own pets

In Switzerland, there are many opportunities to interact or watch animals without having to own pets yourself. Depending on your reasons for wanting a pet, using these opportunities instead of keeping your own animals can make financial sense. It is also worth considering the possible environmental impacts of keeping certain kinds of pets (cats, for example).

Pet sitting is the best way to build relationships with animals without having to carry the cost. For example, many people are not able to walk their dogs every day due to age or time constraints. They may be happy to let a reliable person walk their dogs for them. Other pet owners often need someone to care for their pets when they go away on holidays or work-related trips. Many of these people are even willing to pay you to look after their pets.

Zoos, farms, wildlife parks, aviaries, aquariums, petting zoos, parks, and nature itself are great places to enjoy observing many different kinds of animals. Schools often keep some animals as well. Volunteering at animal shelters is another way to spend time with animals. Many stables let you ride horses at hourly rates or for a monthly flat fee, and this can be much more affordable than owning your own horse.

For animals that do not become emotionally dependent on one person – many kinds of birds, fish, insects, reptiles, and rodents, for example – sharing pets between friends is another option. This is particularly true if your children like having pets, but lose interest in them fairly quickly.

More on this topic:
Compare Swiss pet insurance offers now
Cat insurance explained
Dog insurance costs explained
Guide to horse insurance in Switzerland
Personal liability insurance in Switzerland explained
Household insurance in Switzerland explained

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Editor Daniel Dreier
Daniel Dreier is editor and personal finance expert at
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