Publication 122, Buying and Selling Dogs, Cats, and Other Nonfood Animals

July 2018


This publication is designed to help you understand how sales or use tax applies on sales or purchases of dogs, cats, and other nonfood animals. Sales tax generally applies to sales of animals, birds, reptiles, and insects that do not meet the definition of “food animals,” whether they are used for working stock, breeding, pets, or other purposes. Please see Regulation 1587, Animal Life, Feed, Drugs and Medicines.

Pet sellers generally need a seller’s permit

Generally, you must register with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) for a seller's permit if you are engaged in the business of selling dogs, cats, or other animals which are considered nonfood animals in California.

There are some exceptions:

  • If you sell no more than two pets or other nonfood animals during a twelve-month period, you are not required to hold a seller's permit.
  • Cities, counties, or other local government animal shelters or nonprofit animal welfare organizations—those that primarily prevent abuse, neglect, or exploitation of animals—are not required to collect sales tax for charges related to the adoptions of pets.

Nonfood animals defined

Nonfood animals are animals commonly kept as pets or companions, and are not sold for food (human consumption).

Nonfood animals include animals such as:

Dogs and Cats
Tropical fish
Rodents such as guinea pigs, rats, hamsters, and mice
Reptiles such as iguanas, lizards, or snakes
Pet birds
Chinchillas and Mink

Applying tax to sales of pets or other nonfood animals in California

If you sell more than two pets or other nonfood animals in a twelve-month period, you must obtain a seller's permit, and report and pay sales tax to the CDTFA. The rate of sales tax will depend on the location of the sale. For information about tax rates in specific areas, please select California City and County Sales and Use Tax Rates.)

Note: This publication summarizes the law and applicable regulations in effect when the publication was written, as noted above. However, changes in the law or in regulations may have occurred since that time. If there is a conflict between the text in this publication and the law, decisions will be based on the law and not on this publication.

Purchasing Animals

Purchasing pets from out-of-state

If you purchase a pet or other nonfood animal from outside California, you are generally liable for use tax on your purchase. If you hold a seller’s permit, you must pay use tax under “Purchases Subject to Use Tax” of your sales and use tax return in a timely manner. If you do not hold a permit with us, you may report and pay your use tax on an out-of-state purchase by entering the transaction on your annual California state income tax return. You can also report your purchase(s) subject to use tax on our website at by selecting Make a Payment/Prepayment, and then select Pay use tax for one-time purchases from out-of-state retailer. Once you have registered, you can pay any use tax due by filing your return. You can also register to report use tax in person at any of the CDTFA offices. Please contact our Customer Service Center for assistance at 1-800-400-7115 (TTY:711).

Purchasing food for pets or other nonfood animals

If you sell pets, other nonfood animals, and breeding stock, you may purchase their food without tax by issuing a resale certificate to the vendor at the time of the purchase. Conversely, purchases of food for pets or other nonfood animals that are not held by you for sale in the regular course of business are subject to sales or use tax.

Purchasing drugs or medicines for pets or other nonfood animals

Sales of drugs or medicines for pets or other nonfood animals are subject to tax, regardless whether or not the animals are being held for sale in the regular course of business. These drugs or medicines can be administered orally, hypodermically, topically or externally as injections, implants, drenches, repellents, or pour-ons to pets or other nonfood animals. See Regulation 1587(c)(1) for more information.

However, tax does not apply to the sale or use of such drugs or medicines when added to feed or drinking water for pets or nonfood animals held for sale. If you buy drugs or medicines which are mixed with the feed or drinking water of pets or other nonfood animals for resale, you may issue an exemption certificate to the vendor. See Regulation 1587(d)(2)(C).

Purchases of pet care or nonfood animal supplies

When you purchase pet care and animal-related products such as tack, cages, kennels, bedding, and pet supplies, they are taxable. If you purchase these items from out-of-state without tax, you must report and pay use tax to the CDTFA on your purchase.

Additional Information

For More Information


1587 Animal Life, Feed, Drugs and Medicines

1595 Occasional Sales—Sale of a Business—Business Reorganization

Sales and Use Tax Law sections (Revenue and Taxation Code)

6010.40 “Sale” and “purchase”; pet adoptions


18 Nonprofit Organizations

36 Veterinarians

51 Resource Guide to Free Tax Products and Services for Small Businesses

66 Agricultural Industry

70 Understanding Your Rights as a California Taxpayer

73 Your California Seller’s Permit

103 Sales for Resale