How Many Dogs and Cats Can You Own in Iowa?


The maximum number of dogs or cats you can own without a kennel license in the state of Iowa is between 4 and 6, depending on the municipality in which you live. In this article, you will discover the maximum number of cats and dogs permitted per household, as well as other pet laws in some Iowa municipalities.

A Burmese cat and a Great Dane

Des Moines, IA

The City of Des Moines allows residents to keep up to 6 household pets. This means Des Moines residents may either own 3 dogs and 3 cats or any combination of both animals. All dogs and cats over the age of six months in Des Moines, IA, are required by law to be licensed. The license fee for spayed or neutered pets is $15 per animal and $35 per unspayed or unneutered pet. Residents who are 65 years old or older in the City of Des Moines may register one cat and one dog for $5 each.

If your dog or cat has a license from another City, your pet's existing tag will be exchanged for a City of Des Moines pet license at no charge. However, you need to present a current rabies certificate before exchanging your existing tag for a Des Moines pet license.

Des Moines pet owners are responsible for the immediate removal of any excrement deposited by their dog or cat on any public ground within the city.

When off their owner's premises, all dogs must be on a leash not longer than six feet and under the control of a competent person. When on their owner's property, all dogs must be restrained by an adequate protective fence or by leash or be no more than six feet from the owner.

In Des Moines, IA, Staffordshire Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and American Pit Bull Terriers are deemed "High-Risk Breeds." Des Moines’ ordinance requires that High-Risk Breed owners have a current rabies certificate, have their dog spayed or neutered, complete a High-Risk Compliance form, confined their dog as required by Section 18-56 of the Municipal Code, and have proof of insurance coverage.

Cedar Rapids, IA

Cedar Rapid's Code of Ordinances does not place a limit on the number of dogs and cats a resident can keep in his or her house. However, there are other regulations Cedar Rapids pet owners must follow. To begin with, Cedar Rapids pet owners must have their cat and dog over the age of 4 months vaccinated against rabies and the vaccination tag attached to the pet's collar. In addition, permanent identification is required to be attached to a cat or dog's collar if the pet is not microchipped.

It is illegal for Cedar Rapids residents to keep pets in unsanitary conditions. Furthermore, it is illegal for any Cedar Rapids resident to allow their dog to bark, howl or make any other noise for more than fifteen minutes in any one-hour period of any day, thereby unreasonably disturbing the peace of other people.

Davenport, IA

Within the City of Davenport, no more than four of the following animals are allowed per household: Cats, dogs, ferrets, and potbellied pigs. And of these four animals, no more than three of the same species are allowed per household.  This means you can not own more than 3 dogs or 3 cats in Davenport, IA. However, Davenport residents may obtain a permit from the Humane Society of Scott County to own more than four household pets.

A dog is deemed "Vicious" in Davenport if it inflicts bodily injury on a person or other animal by biting in an unprovoked attack. Davenport law requires that vicious dogs living within the city limits be neutered or spayed and be muzzled at all times. In addition, vicious dog owners are required to place a warning sign at each entrance/exit of the premises or on every side of the dog's enclosure if the premises is not enclosed by a fence.

Sioux City, IA

In Sioux City, IA, residents are allowed no more than 3 pets per residential unit, 2 of which may be dogs or cats. This means that, without a permit, you can either own 2 cats and 1 dog or 2 dogs and 1 cat in Sioux City, IA. However, with an Excess Animals Permit, you can own 3 dogs or more and 3 cats or more in Sioux City. A permit will not be issued for a resident with more than 2 unsterilized pets of the same species. And before the permit is issued, Sioux City pet owners must have their dogs and cats vaccinated for rabies and licensed.

West Des Moines, IA

The City of West Des Moines permits residents to have a total of 4 pets on their premises. This means you can either have 2 dogs and 2 cats or any combination of both animals in your house if you live in West Des Moines, IA.

In accordance with the City Code, all cats and dogs over the age of six months must be licensed. The license fee for an altered cat is $17 and $24 for an intact cat. The license fee for an altered dog is $19 and $29 for an intact dog.

Ankeny, IA

The City of Ankeny allows residents to have 4 dogs or four cats or a combination of both animals not exceeding 4 per household on a residential lot. All dogs and cats living within the city limits of Ankeny must be licensed. The license fee per altered dog or cat is $15 and $25 per unaltered dog or cat, according to the city's website.

Ottumwa, IA

While the City of Ottumwa Code does not place a limit on the number of cats and dogs a resident can have in their house, it does state that it is illegal for a resident to keep dogs and cats in such numbers or in such a manner that their presence disturbs the peace and comfort of another person. Similar regulations are in place in Fort Dodge, IA.

Other Cities

  • Ames, IA: Allows 4 dogs or cats or any combination thereof
  • Council Bluffs, IA: Allows no more than 4 dogs or 4 cats
  • Cedar Falls, IA: Residents may own 3 dogs and/or 3 cats
  • Burlington, IA: Allows no more than 4 household pets
  • Waukee: IA: Allows a total of 3 cats and 3 dogs per household
  • Johnston, IA: Allows a maximum of 4 household pets
  • Clive, IA: Allows no more than 4 pets per household
  • Pella, IA: Permits a maximum of 4 pets per household
  • Fort Madison: IA: Permits no more than 4 pets per household
  • Pleasant Hill, IA: Permits no more than 4 dogs or cats per residence
  • Denison, IA: Permits no more than 6 pets per residence
  • Perry, IA: Allows no more than six dogs or cats per dwelling unit


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