A puppy looking to camera

Online pet sales in the EU: What’s the cost?

Hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats are advertised for sale online each day across EU countries, with many found to be suffering health problems, underweight or too young to leave their mothers, according to findings in our new report Online pet sales in the EU: What’s the cost?.

Data released in our partnership report with the EU Dog and Cat Alliance, a body dedicated to improving the welfare of cats and dogs across Europe, reveals some websites even encourage impulse purchasing, with financial loans offered to entice people who can’t afford the price of a pet to buy one immediately on credit.


A snapshot count of online adverts for dogs and cats in 21 European countries found that 400,579 dogs and 104,318 cats were advertised for sale on a given day, and thousands of exotic animals were also offered for sale. In over three quarters of EU countries, the online sale of animals as pets is completely unregulated.

Ninety-five per cent of charities surveyed agreed there was a problem with the sale of pets online in their country - a statistic that showcases that there is a real problem and one that needs action. Common themes found among the ads included the sale of animals that are too young or in ill health, as well as a lack of animal welfare information.


The Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) a body dedicated to improving the standard of advertising of pets on classified websites, has had huge success in both the UK and Ireland. Blue Cross recently launched the first PAAG group in mainland Europe, BelgPAAG in Belgium, which we hope will be equally successful.

Becky Thwaites, Head of Public Affairs, Blue Cross said: “The findings from our report on the online sale of pets in Europe has shocked us all. The cases of unscrupulous breeders and sellers who prioritise profit over welfare is clearly a growing problem that needs to be tackled.”

We’re calling on the European Parliament to help us set up more PAAG groups across more European countries to help tackle the growing problem of poor animal welfare standards associated with the online sale of pets. The internet is the biggest pet marketplace and politicians must act now to protect animal welfare and pet owners.

Read our full report now.

— Page last updated 18/06/2020