Travelling abroad with your dog or cat
It is possible to travel to EU and non-EU countries with your pet and return to the UK without entering quarantine providing that you follow the Pet Travel Scheme rules.
These rules are regularly revised and updated and they are enforced by the border controls of the countries involved. The main aim of the Pet Travel Scheme is to prevent the spread of rabies virus (and also the echinococcus tapeworm) between countries. Because the UK is a rabies-free country, the rules for pets returning to the UK are particularly strictly enforced at the UK borders.
The Pet Travel Scheme rules do not apply for travel between mainland UK and the Channel Islands or the Isle of Mann.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) oversees the scheme in the UK. Detailed advice can be found at www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/overview and this site is updated immediately if any legislative changes are made to the system. The Pet Travel Scheme sets out different rules depending on whether you are taking your pet to a European Union (EU) country or not. Please visit this site and read the information carefully to find out which rules apply to your particular journey.
A summary of the basic requirements is given below but does not replace or over-ride the official information given on the gov.uk site.
Pets travelling to a EU country
- Your pet must be fitted with a microchip before anything else can be done
- Your pet must be vaccinated against rabies by one of our veterinary surgeons. Pets must be at least 12 weeks of age to receive this vaccination. The vaccine protocol used in the UK states that booster vaccinations must be given at least every 3 years.
- An EU pet passport will then be filled in for your pet. This contains identification details for your pet, information about our veterinary practice and the veterinary surgeon completing the passport and information about the vaccination given. Any veterinary surgeon can implant the microchip and administer the rabies vaccination but only an Official Veterinarian can complete the passport. The Official Veterinarians at Acorn House Veterinary Surgery are David Chennells, Heidrun Chennells, Sheldon Middleton, Adele Fryers, Katharine Nelson, Romina Moschella, and Rosie Theakston. The Official Veterinarian must meet your pet and personally scan him or her for the microchip before issuing the passport.
- Your pet cannot travel for 21 days after receiving the rabies vaccination. This valid-from date will be entered into the passport when the passport is issued. The day of vaccination counts as day 0.
- You must take your pet passport with you when you travel abroad with your dog and it will be checked carefully in the same way that your own passport is when you move between countries.
- Dogs must be seen by an official veterinary surgeon in the country you have been visiting before they can leave to return to the UK. The vet will administer a tapeworm treatment and sign the passport to show that this has been done. The treatment must be given between 24 and 150 hours before your return to the UK. There is no such requirement for cats or ferrets. Dogs will not be permitted to return to the UK if this has not been done.
- You must travel with your pet using an approved transport company and an approved route. These are also detailed on the gov.uk website.
Pets travelling to a listed country
The Pet Travel Scheme identifies a large number of “listed countries” that are not within the EU. This list is available at www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad. If you are travelling to one of these countries, you follow broadly the same process as above, but you may also need to fill in a declaration form stating that you do not intend to sell or rehome your pet. This form is also available for you to download from the link above.
Pets travelling to a non-listed country
- Your pet must be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies as above.
- A blood test must be taken at least 30 days after the vaccination. The blood test is to check that your pet has developed adequate immunity after the rabies vaccination.
- One of our Official Veterinarians will complete the passport as for an EU or listed country. Additionally, they will enter the blood test results into the passport.
- You will need to download and complete a declaration form stating that you do not intend to sell or transfer ownership of your pet (this form is available from the gov.uk website)
- Pay particular attention to the information at www.gov/uk/take-pet-abroad because additional certificates and time limits apply for some countries. This is particularly true if the vaccinations and blood tests are carried out in a non-EU country.
- Again, you must use an approved transport company and an approved route.
Further information regarding pet passports at Acorn House Veterinary Surgery
- Please speak to one of our Official Veterinarians to discuss your individual situation if your plans are not straightforward or if you are unsure of the scheme requirements after consulting the gov.uk website.
- On rare occasions, microchips may move position within your pet’s body, or may stop transmitting a signal to the microchip reader. Your pet would not be able to continue to travel on the scheme if the microchip could not be read. For this reason, we recommend that all pets have an appointment with one of our veterinary nurses to check that the chip is reading the day before you travel. There is no charge for this service.
- Our fees for the Pets Travel Scheme are as follows:
- Microchip implantation £9.50
- Rabies vaccination (single injection) £64.42
- New PETS passport £55.85
- Renewal of passport £28.37
If you have any queries consult DEFRA for the most up to date information at: www.defra.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/overview
PETS helpline:0370 2411710 (Mon-Fri 8 am-6pm) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Travelling abroad with your dog: precautions against disease
If you are taking your dog abroad there is a risk of him/her picking up diseases which are not normally seen in the United Kingdom. The risks from a short holiday are low but there are some precautions that you should take before and during your holiday to protect your dog. Rember that the PETS travel scheme is designed to prevent dogs form bringing rabies and tapeworms back to the UK. It is not designed to protect individual dogs whilst they are abroad.
Please read the following information regarding the common exotic diseases present in Europe.
If you are travelling to areas affected by these diseases your veterinary surgeon will be happy to help you select the appropriate preventative treatments prior to your trip.
Leishmaniasis: Common around the Mediterranean including Spain, Portugal, Southern France, Italy and Greece. This disease causes skin problems, weight loss, lameness and kidney failure. Many of the scruffy looking dogs you see on holiday, especially those with hair loss around the eyes, will have leishmaniasis. Symptoms can often be improved with treatment, but the disease is difficult to cure completely. The disease may not develop for several years after the initial infection.
Leishmaniasis is spread by sandflies. Sandflies are mostly found in wooded areas and gardens, and are particularly active at night during the summer months. Prevention is by reducing the risk of bites by sandflies: do not allow your dog to sleep outdoors at night and use a preventative treatment to repel sandflies.
There is a choice of repellent products which may be purchased in the UK before you travel. One is a collar (scalibor) which contains deltamerithrin and lasts for 6 months. The other is a spot-on treatment (Advantix) which lasts for 2 weeks. Plug-in insect repellents are also useful to keep the inside of the buildings insect-free for animals and people!
There is also a vaccination available for dogs travelling abroad which reduces the risk of them contracting Leishmaniasis (dogs that have been vaccinated are 4 times less likely to develop the disease). This vaccination may be given to dogs from 6 months of age. The initial vaccination course consists of three injections each given three weeks after the preceding injection. The onset of immunity is 4 weeks after completing the initial course, so the vaccination course should be started at least 10 weeks before you wish to travel. Afterwards, a single booster should be given every year to maintain immunity.
Heartworm Common in Australia, America, Spain, Southern France, and Italy. However, with global warming this disease is starting to occur further north, with occasional cases reported as far north as Brittany. The heartworms live in the heart and large blood vessels, causing heart failure and breathing difficulties. Symptoms are not usually seen for 6-12 months after infection.
Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes. Treatment is based around preventing mosquito bites, and also medication to prevent worms from developing if your dog is infected. Prevention of mosquito bites can be achieved by using the Scalibor collar or Advantix spot-on, as for preventing bites by sandflies.
The drugs which prevent heartworms developing are given monthly, starting before you leave the UK and continuing for a short period after your return. The choice is between a spot-on product (Stronghold) and a tablet (Milbemax). Because heartworm is common in the at-risk areas and is serious and difficult to treat once the worms are in the heart, we recommend that all animals travelling to risk areas are given one of these preventative drugs.
Babesiosis: This disease is particularly common in France but also occurs in most other European countries. Babesiosis is a parasite of the red blood cells which causes severe anaemia. This disease can have a dramatic onset with fatal consequences 2-3 weeks after exposure to the ticks which spread Babesiosis. It is essential to get an immediate diagnosis and treatment, so if your dog suddenly becomes ill whilst abroad or soon after returning, seek veterinary attention immediately.
Babesiosis is spread by ticks. In most cases the Babesia parasite is not transmitted to the dog until the tick has been feeding for 24-48 hours. Treatment is based on avoiding ticks, preventing them from biting the dog, and removing them within 24 hours if they do bite the dog.
We recommend: Avoid rough ground and forests, especially where other animals graze. Advantix spot-on or a Scalibor collar should be used. These products repel ticks and make them much less likely to attach to your dog. If ticks do attach they are killed by Advantix (but not by Scalibor). Frontline spot-on kills ticks after they attach to the dog but does not repel them. Do a thorough groom of your dog every day and check carefully for ticks. Use a tick hook to remove any ticks found as soon as possible (tick hooks are very easy to use and can be purchased at reception).
Ehrlichiosis This disease is seen in all Mediterranean countries. It often causes disease in dogs at the same time as Babesiosis because it is also transmitted by ticks. Ehrlichiosis is a parasite which infects the white bood cells. Initially it causes a fever. Following this, some dogs recover completely. Other dogs remain infected and develop problems with their immune system and blood clotting system. Prevention is by preventing tick bites as for Babesiosis.
Travelling abroad with your cat: protection against disease
Cats are also at risk from contracting the above diseases.
Unfortunately, the options for safely protecting cats are more limited. There is no safe tick or sandfly repellant treatment for cats and no vaccination against Leishmaniasis.
Protecting your cat will involve:
- Returning cats to the house before dusk (when sandflies become more active)
- Avoiding access to areas with a high prevalence of ticks (rough ground, forests, grazing areas)
- Applying Broadline monthly for protection against heartworms as well as roundworms and tapeworms
- Broadline will also kill ticks once they have attached so that they drop off more quickly (within 48 hours)
- Check your cat daily for ticks and remove any using a tick removing hook
Before you travel:
- Check that your PETS passport is correct and up to date.
- If you are flying, check that your transport is booked and that you are aware of any specific regulations, for example, crate sizes.
- Complete the Leishmaniasis vaccination course if travelling to an at-risk area. (dogs only)
- Start treatment with Stronghold or Milbemax (dogs or cats) or Broadline (cats only) for heartworm (if travelling to an at-risk area). Broadline will have some activity against ticks so is the preferred option for cats.
- Start treatment with Scalibor or Advantix to prevent ticks, sandflies and mosquitoes (dogs only).
- Whilst on holiday, check daily for ticks and remove any found with a tick hook. If using Advantix, re-apply every 2 weeks (every 3 weeks is suffcient for ticks and every 4 weeks is suffcient for fleas, but protection against sandflies and mosquitoes requires fortnightly application)
- If using a Scalibor collar, this will last for six months before requiring replacement.
- If in a heartworm area, repeat Stronghold or Milbemax (dogs and cats) or Broadline (cats only) every month
- For dogs only: arrange for tapeworm treatment to be given not less than 24 hours and not more than 150 hours before you check in for your return journey to the UK. This treatment must be given by a veterinary surgeon and the appropriate section of the PETS passport must be signed by the vet. The timing is very strictly enforced!
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Acorn House Veterinary Surgery
Linnet Way, Brickhill, Bedford, MK41 7HN