Information about animal research in Sweden

Swedish Animal Welfare Act

The Swedish Animal Welfare Act includes basic regulations concerning how animals should be kept and cared for. The Act applies not only to laboratory animals for research purposes, but also to keeping animals in general, e.g. house pets and farm animals.
The Act stipulates, e.g. that animals should be given sufficient food, water, and supervision. Their environment should be adequate to promote their health and give them the opportunity to act naturally. Animals should not be overexerted, beaten, or prodded with devices that could cause injury. They may not be restrained in ways that cause pain. Animals should be transported in vehicles that protect against heat, cold, abrasion, etc.

A sick or injured animal should be given timely and appropriate care unless it is so sick or injured that it must be put to down quickly. In slaughter, animals should be protected from unnecessary discomfort and suffering, and a special section of the law stipulates that animals shall be anaesthetised when bled. Special provisions also apply, e.g. to laboratory animals and to competitions and exhibitions involving animals.

Responsibility for complying with laws and regulations


In addition to the provisions regulating how animals should be kept, treated, and cared for, other provisions address, for instance, where the responsibility rests for enforcing animal welfare regulations, i.e. compliance with laws and regulations. In Sweden, the municipalities, county governments, and Swedish Board of Agriculture have this responsibility.

The Swedish Animal Welfare Act provides protection for animals whose owners have neglected their supervision and care, or who have mistreated them. If an animal is mistreated, and if the situation is not remedied, the authorities can decide if the animal should be taken into custody. Depending on the situation, the animal can then be sold or put to death.

Those found in violation of the Swedish Animal Welfare Act or provisions of the law can be sentenced to fines or imprisonment. Fines, or imprisonment for a maximum of two years, can also be the punishment for those convicted of cruelty to animals (Criminal Code: Section 16, paragraph 13).

Text: Nilla Johansson

The animal wellfare actexternal link, opens in new window

Published: 2009-04-15
Last updated: 2013-04-04
Responsible for content: Mats Ulfendahl, Secretary General of Medicine and health, Swedish Research Council.
Editor: Anna Sandström, Swedish Research Council. Contact: Send email to the editorial staff.