A new law that bans testing cosmetics on animals will also give animal welfare inspectors more enforcement tools, the Government says.
The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill was passed last night.
The Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, said the bill improved the clarity and transparency of the Animal Welfare Act.
Mr Guy said animal welfare inspectors would be able to prevent animal suffering as well as punish perpetrators.
He said inspectors would also have the power to issue compliance notices.
The bill also banned testing cosmetic products, or any ingredients intended to be used for cosmetics, on animals.
"New Zealanders care deeply about how animals are treated," he said.
"Sixty-eight percent of New Zealand households have at least one pet, and we earn around $25 billion a year by exporting animal products such as meat, milk and wool."
New Zealand Vetinary Association (NZVA) president Steve Merchant said one of the key changes included the law recognising the fact animals could have feelings.
Dr Merchant said expectations of animal welfare had been changing, and practices that were once common for pets and farm stock were no longer tolerated.
"The bill brings legislation in line with our nation's changing attitude on the status of animals in society ... and places New Zealand at the forefront of progressive animal welfare legislation," he said.
Dr Merchant said regulations needed to be very precise and clearly defined in order to achieve high compliance with the animal welfare standards.