Do You Need a DBS Check to Work With Animals?

It’s common knowledge among most people that DBS checks are required when working with children and vulnerable adults, but many may be unaware of the requirement for one when working with animals.

This blog will explain which checks are needed for different job roles, involving working with animals, and which specific job roles require which level of DBS check.


When it comes to zookeepers, it depends on the job they are carrying out to determine which level of DBS check they require.

Only a Basic DBS Check is required for general cleaning, feeding and maintenance duties.

For more hands-on roles with the animals, such as caring for them in more considerable detail than general cleaning and feeding, a Standard DBS Check is required.

Lastly, some zookeepers undertake entertainment duties as part of their role. This includes shows with the general public, feeding times and petting practices, especially with children present. Due to the nature, an Enhanced DBS Check is required for all employees participating in these activities.

Regulated Activity

A ‘regulated activity’ means involvement or direct contact working with children or vulnerable adults, including teaching or care work.

Regulated activity is an activity in which the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) can bar someone from taking part. By law, somebody previously barred from working in these areas is not permitted to seek work among vulnerable groups and is committing a criminal offence if they do so.

Individuals taking part in regulated activities must complete Standard or Enhanced DBS Check to carry out their duties. Whether teaching children sports in an after-school club, such as Football or Cricket or caring for children in a care home, everybody requires a Standard or Enhanced DBS Check, subject to the nature of the role.

Pet Sitters / Dog walkers

Pet sitters and dog walkers don't usually require a DBS certificate to carry out their role but must ensure they have the correct documentation, such as a licence and insurance, to take on the responsibility of other’s pets.

Some pet sitters and dog walkers usually opt for a Basic DBS Check before starting. This is to prove they are trustworthy and safe to take responsibility for their pets and occasionally for their home.

In this instance, a third party doesn't need to apply for the DBS check. Checks can be applied for by the individual directly by completing a DBS online application. This is particularly beneficial for self-employed dog walkers and pet sitters as it speeds up the process of getting started and offers another layer of insurance for their work.

Vets (or Veterinarians)

Vets require at least a standard DBS check completed before commencing their role. The requirement for a DBS check for veterinarians is to check for previous offences involving cruelty to animals or neglect.

Much like pet sitters and dog walkers, veterinarians are often left responsible for other people’s beloved animals. Most of the time, the animals in the care of veterinary professionals need medical assistance and are vulnerable. Often, these professionals are left unattended to care directly for these animals; all the more reason to have a completed DBS check.

Therapy Animals

Though people may commonly think that working with animals doesn’t require a DBS check at all, the reality of the requirement for working with therapy animals is quite different.

Anybody working with therapy animals, children, or vulnerable adults needs an Enhanced DBS Check with a barred list (the highest level of DBS check).

Individuals working alongside therapy animals in a hospital or care home also need an Enhanced DBS check. Still, if no animals are present, this job role only requires a Standard DBS Check. This also applies to children’s homes where animals are providing support.

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