Taking your pet abroad isn’t always easy.  Don’t worry, we are here to help

Are you planning to take your pet away on holiday?

Here at Twickenham Veterinary Surgery our vets are trained to deal with all aspects of overseas pet travel. We can certify government export certificates, issue private health certificates and issue pet passports.

Increasingly, people are deciding to travel with their pets rather than putting them into kennels or catteries while they go abroad. The pet passport scheme has made travelling with pets much easier.

However, there are various requirements for this scheme and there are lots of things to consider; one of the main aspects being the potential disease implications of international travel.

Below are some details for the PETS scheme and links to the DEFRA PETS scheme website:-

What’s new?

The original rules for PETS (the pet travel scheme) were revised in 2004 and the original paperwork has been superseded by the European pet passport, which came into effect on 03/07/04. The passport covers dogs, cats and ferrets. There have been recent changes in the pet passport scheme which came into effect on 1st January, 2012.

Which countries are included in the scheme?

Resident pets in the UK can travel to EU and non EU countries, including long haul destinations, and return to the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme, without going into quarantine, provided all the regulations are adhered to.

An updated list of the countries involved in the scheme can be obtained from the DEFRA website, or by calling the PETS helpline (0370 241 1710).

Routes and travel

An approved route and travel company must be used. These are regularly updated, so you must check them before booking your return trip to the UK. Some companies have their own additional conditions of travel. Please note, you may not bring a pet into the UK under the PETS scheme from a private boat or plane.

Requirements of the PETS scheme

On 1st January 2012, the rules for the Pet Passport Scheme and animals entering the UK changed.

Under the new rules

    • Animals must be microchipped.
    • They must have a rabies vaccination.
    • Three weeks after the rabies vaccination animals can re-enter the UK (animals originating from abroad must be blood tested and wait 3 months from the rabies blood test before entering the UK)
    • Animals have to have the tapeworm (Echinococcus) treatment 24 hours to 5 days before re-entering the UK – the relevant section of the Pet Passport must be signed by the veterinarian administering the treatment and the time and date must be entered in the passport.

Some Useful Pointers  – Ticks

The lack of tick treatment upon entering the UK means we are more likely to see more ticks coming into the UK from abroad. We therefore think that it is imperative that you treat your pets against ticks before, during and after a visit abroad.

You should then continue to treat your pet against ticks all year round. If you need more advice on suitable treatments for when your pet is abroad you can find this information in our Pet Passport leaflet.

Some Useful Pointers – Rabies

Without testing your pet’s blood for the rabies antibody, we cannot tell if he or she actually has adequate levels of immunity should he or she come into contact with rabies.

While the risk of rabies in much of Western Europe is relatively low, there are a substantial number of countries in the EU and on the EU list where there is still a problem with rabies in wildlife reservoirs in countries such as Italy, Poland, Baltic States, Russia, USA and many others.

You can find more information on rabies high risk countries on the Health Protection Agency website (www.hpa.org.uk).

In these areas and even more when canine rabies sporadically occurs, for example in France 2011, there is a genuine risk of exposure to rabies.

Rabies has even been found in vaccinated dogs. If you decide to take your vaccinated pet to an area where they could be exposed to rabies, you have a 5 % chance that your pet could fail to respond to their rabies vaccination. This will not only put your pet at risk, but you and your family, too.

If you are planning to go to a high risk country, multiple doses of rabies vaccine, rabies serology and, if necessary, rabies boosting shortly before travel is advisable.

The WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) latest guidelines advise giving a booster one year after the initial rabies vaccination and then giving the booster every three years, unless you are taking your pet to an area where rabies is endemic, in which case it is advised to follow the local rules and recommendations.

Avoidable Diseases

      • Leishmaniosis

This is an intracellular protozoan parasite, transmitted by sand flies (Phlebotomus and Lutzomyia). Infected dogs can act as a reservoir for infection for other dogs. Infection causes weight loss, enlarged lymph nodes, and can lead to symptoms that mimic autoimmune disease, affecting most body systems, notably the skin.

Prevention is achieved by decreasing exposure to sand flies (fly repellent such as a Scalibor collar, avoid being outside between dusk and dawn). Note: this disease can also affect humans.

      • Babesiosis

This is an intracellular protozoan parasite, transmitted by ticks. Infection causes high fever, weakness, anorexia, haemolytic anaemia and, eventually, jaundice and death.

Prevention involves aggressive tick control. Treatment should be given 7 days before travel, and repeated at the correct interval during travel, in addition, a daily ‘tick watch’ should be performed: do not touch the ticks, use a tick hook (available at reception) and destroy the tick. Consider treating your car with Indorex, or a similar environmental spray.

      • Ehrlichiosis

A bacterial infection transmitted by ticks: the bacterium infects white blood cells and platelets and can lead to severe bleeding disorders. Prevention as for Babesiosis.

      • Heartworm

Prevent by treating with Nexgard Spectra, Veloxa or Milbemax before and during travel.

Useful information sources

    • PETS helpline: 0370 241 1710 (08.30 – 17.00 weekdays)

Remember to ALWAYS check with the authorities in your country of destination to make sure they have no additional requirements. Also protect your pet against diseases present in your country of destination.

To download our Practice leaflet on the Pet Passport Scheme, please click here.

If you are planning to take your pet abroad and would like some help,
then simply call 020 8898 0528 and a member of our experienced team will be able to help you.