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Pet becomes ill or dies after buying

This advice applies to England

If you recently bought a pet and it soon becomes ill or dies you may have a right to get a refund or replacement from the trader you bought it from.

If you bought your pet from a shop

When you buy a pet your consumer rights are the same as if you bought any item or product. This means, if you buy the pet and it quickly becomes ill or it dies, you may be able to get a refund from the shop or a replacement pet.

If you have to spend money taking your pet to the vet soon after you bought it, you should ask the trader you bought it from to cover the cost of the vet’s fees.


Sarah bought a hamster from PetsUniversal. Five days later the hamster got very ill and Sarah had to take it to the vet. Unfortunately, the vet said the hamster had to be put down which would cost £50. Sarah had to pay £50 to the vet to put the hamster to sleep. Sarah can go back to PetsUniversal with a receipt from the vet and ask for her money back, plus either a refund for the cost of the hamster or a new hamster.

If you bought the pet from a private seller

If you bought the pet from a private seller, you have less consumer rights than if you bought from a shop or organisation. You can only get a refund for the cost of the pet if it didn’t match the description the seller gave to you. So if the seller described the pet as healthy, you have a right to a refund.

If you didn’t ask the question about health and they didn’t describe its state of health to you, there is nothing you can do.

Ask for a puppy contract 

Over the past few years there's been a big increase in puppies becoming ill or dying soon after being bought from private sellers. Often these puppies have come from 'puppy farms', where they haven't been bred or looked after properly. 

If you're planning to buy a puppy, you can ask a private seller to sign a 'puppy contract', which can be downloaded for free from the RSPCA website

The seller must provide a detailed description of the health and history of the puppy in the contract, so you can feel confident that your puppy is fit and well. 

The contract is legally binding, so it gives you better protection as a consumer - because you'll have a detailed description of the puppy in writing, you can ask for a refund if the puppy doesn't meet that description. 

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