Ruth Vahle
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Expat Life

Pets in Beijing – A Quick Guide for Pet Owners

Despite the disgusting reality of dog meat dishes in the Chinese cuisine, Chinese people generally are pet friendly. But there are a few things you should know about having pets in Beijing.

This guide to pets in Beijing covers:

  • Bringing a pet to Beijing
  • Getting a pet in China
  • Preventing rabies
  • Registering a dog in Beijing
  • Finding a pet-sitter when you are away
  • Taking a pet out of China

Your furry family member is coming with you to China

When you want to bring your cat or dog to China, make sure you plan everything through. There’s much more to it than vaccinations, travel documents and transportation for your pet.

Beijing and other Chinese cities require quarantines for pets coming into the country. Quarantine requirements don’t end here. When you leave China, some countries require long quarantines for pets coming out of China.

In addition, Beijing has registration requirements for dogs, limits on the number of dogs per household, bans on large dogs in the city center, and complete bans of some breeds. Read more about it in my recent post How to bring your pet to China.

If your company wants to send you to China, consider that relocation packages for expats usually don’t cover relocation cost for pets. So bringing your dog or cat with you to China can be expensive and stressful.

Getting a pet in Beijing

You may want to get a dog or cat while living in China. Before you get one, make sure that you understand all the requirements and how you can take your dog or cat with you when you leave China.

Buy with caution

Puppies and kittens sold in stores often come from big puppy mills. Even though they may be super-cute to look at through the store window, they may not be healthy or fully vaccinated. Also, buying a pet from those puppy mills only encourages them to produce more. There are better options to find a new companion.

You will sometimes see people with tiny puppies or kittens on the street trying to sell those. Often the babies look way too young to be separated from their mother. Again, they are very cute. And you may feel you should rescue them. But the same caution applies.

If you really want to buy a dog or cat, maybe because you need a breed that doesn’t shed, or want to make sure the small puppy doesn’t grow into the size of a great dane, try to find a responsible breeder.

Adopt a pet in need

There are many pets in Beijing looking for a new home, and adopting a pet is easy. They may not be cute kittens and puppies anymore. But older pets can be great too.

The International Center for Veterinary Services in Beijing has a webpage with adoptable pets. The pets featured there are from volunteer shelters, rescue groups and other responsible animal supporters.

Other sites to check out if you want to adopt a pet:

Together for Animals in China TACN – Rescues animals all over China, including dogs from the dog meat trade.

Beijing Cat – Features cats in need of a new home. Also has foster and volunteer opportunities.

Doctors Beck and Stone – Another veterinary service with a webpage dedicated to pets that need a new home, many cities in China.

Finding a stray, or a stray finds you

There are many stray cats and dogs in Beijing, although they usually try to stay away from people. They probably heard about the dog catchers from animal control. But sometimes the younger vulnerable ones seek out a new home.

I was a cat sitter for two adorable cats in Sanlitun, that were stray kitties and found their new owners by wandering the streets.

Keep your pet and yourself healthy – Prevent rabies

Rabies is a real threat in China. China has the second highest number of reported rabies cases in the worldAnd it is not just a threat to the health of animals. Each year, over 2,000 people die from rabies in China.

In most developed countries, pets are routinely vaccinated against rabies. This is not the case in China. So there is a risk of contracting the disease from a bite or scratch from an infected animal, even if the animal appears healthy.

Because so many pets are not vaccinated, you should consider getting the human rabies vaccine, a three-shot series. Especially if you tend to play with other people’s animals or with strays.

So make sure that your pets are fully vaccinated. And treat all other pets with caution if you haven’t been vaccinated yourself.

Rabies is not the only vaccination your cat or dog should have. Please check with your vet what is needed for your furry friend depending on the type and age of the pet.

Register your dog in Beijing

Dogs in Beijing have to be registered. The police do occasional spot checks and may take your dog away if it is not properly registered. Registration fees vary by district but are around 1000 RMB for the initial registration and 500 RMB for the yearly renewal.

To register your dog, you need proof of annual rabies vaccination. The three-year rabies shots offered in some countries are not recognized by China.

There are limits on the size of dogs and also on number of dogs per household that you can register. Some breeds are not allowed at all. My previous post has more info on this.

TimeOut Beijing recently published a handy how to guide for registering your dog.

Who looks after your pet when you travel

Living in China as an expat offers great opportunities to explore the country and the entire region. But someone has to look after your pet, when you are away.

Especially during the long holiday weeks in October and over Chinese New Year, it can be a challenge to find someone to pet sit. (Read my recent post about pet-sitters.) And I mean not just someone who puts out food and cleans a litter box. But the right someone who gives cuddles, playtime, or long walks.

Fortunately there are house- and pet-sitting services like, that match up qualified pet sitters with pets and houses that need care while the owners are away. Other house-sitting sites don’t have much coverage in China. HouseSitMatch wants to change that and will work actively to find the right sitter.

Don’t leave your pet behind in China

When you are ready to leave China, you need to get your pet ready, too. To export a pet, you need a health certificate and an exit permit. In addition, you need to meet the requirements for the country you are moving to. Start planning early to get all the vaccinations, health examinations and paperwork in order.

Before you get a pet in Beijing, please think it through what will happen to it when you leave China. Having a pet is a big commitment. If you have absolutely no choice and can’t take it, start early to find a new happy home for it.

I hope you found this guide to having pets in Beijing helpful. If you read this far, you probably already have one or are seriously thinking about getting one. Thank you for sharing the love! And please share this article with your pet-loving friends.

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