Advice for travelling with your pet
Travelling abroad with your pet has never been more straightforward. However there are still formalities to be aware of and precautions that you need to take. Above all it is essential that you plan many weeks ahead to avoid potential problems.
Pet Passport Travel Scheme (PETS)
Dogs, cats, and ferrets can be issued with a passport and travel under PETS and the pet passport is the only document required for non-commercial movements within the EU (other domestic animals require different travel documentation so if you would like to travel with/export other domestic species please give us a call and we can advise you on what to do). If you are travelling outside the EU different rules often apply so contact us in plenty of time before travel.
In order to have a passport issued your pet must be microchipped (dog owners, remember that as of April 2016 it will be a legal requirement for all dogs to be chipped) and then have a vaccination against rabies. If your pet has a tattoo for identification this may be used instead of a microchip as long as tattooing occurred before 3rd July 2011 and before rabies vaccination (if this is not the case your pet will require microchip implantation).
Please note that if you are planning to travel outside of the EU every country will have its own specific entry requirements which will need to be met. It is the owner’s responsibility to establish what these are and ensure they are met. Some countries require lots of paperwork to be completed and stipulate long waiting times before being allowed to travel after vaccinations, therefore we recommend you start making arrangements at least 6 months before you are planning to travel.
- Your pet must be at least 12 weeks old
- Your pet must remain in the UK for 21 days post rabies vaccination (vaccination day being day 0) and only once this time has elapsed is allowed to leave the UK
- A blood test to confirm immunity used to be required for all animals vaccinated against rabies, however, this rule has been relaxed and this blood test only need be performed if you are travelling outside the EU. This blood test must be performed at least 30 days after rabies vaccination if the pet is to be returned to the EU after visiting an unlisted Third Country.
Rabies vaccination has to be boosted. As long as the booster is given before the previous vaccine runs out there is no need to wait for 21 days post booster before leaving the UK (in the rabies vaccination section of the passport there is a box which shows the “valid until” date); however, if the booster time is missed the next vaccination will be seen as a restart and 21 days will need to pass before travelling. The vaccination we currently use lasts for 3 years.
Fitness to travel
There is a section in the pet passport for clinical examination. This section is not mandatory and does not have to be completed before being allowed to travel, however, some transport companies may ask for evidence of an animal’s fitness to travel so if required we can fill it in.
Re-entry into the UK – Dogs
Tapeworm treatment is an absolute requirement for entry of dogs into the UK. This is because there is a tapeworm present in the EU that is currently not present in the UK (Echinococcus multilocularis) which poses a serious health risk to both animals and humans. This treatment must be given by a vet (who will need to check the microchip first) and has to be administered not less than 24 hours and not more than 120 hours (5 days) before arriving back in the UK. The treatment will need to be recorded in the passport, stamped, and signed.
If you will be returning within 120 hours of leaving the UK (i.e. weekend breaks) it is possible to have a tapeworm treatment given by a vet prior to departure.
Whilst it is no longer essential to have a tick treatment before re-entry into the UK we would recommend preventative measures to avoid ticks whilst you are abroad and a tick treatment before coming back to the UK to avoid both tick-borne diseases and introduction of novel species into the UK.
Re-entry into the UK – Cats and ferrets
No further treatments are required.
- In order to travel within the EU your dog, cat, or ferret will require a pet passport
- Passports can be issued following microchip implantation and rabies vaccination
- Cats and ferrets can then travel freely
- Dogs require tapeworm treatment 24-120 hours prior to re-entering the UK
- Some travel companies require documentation that the animal is fit to travel
Exotic disease considerations
Rabies (a rhabdovirus)
The UK has been rabies-free for 60 years. Occasionally there are outbreaks, usually from dogs smuggled into the country. It is a serious disease of the nervous system that is zoonotic (can be passed from animals to humans) and will always result in death. As above, an inactivated vaccine is given to all dogs, cats, and ferrets travelling abroad
Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis)
Transmitted by mosquitoes. These are present in the UK, however, ambient temperatures here are too low for parasite multiplication. Helminth (worm) parasite is found in the USA, Canada, S. America, southern Europe, Australia, Korea, and Japan.
The adult worm matures in the pulmonary artery and the right side of the heart.
Clinical signs: coughing, lethargy, weight loss, breathing problems, and sudden death
Recommended products for prevention of heartworm: Advocate or Prinovox, Scalibor collar, Stronghold
Leishmaniosis (Leishmania infantum)
A protozoan parasite transmitted by sandflies that is zoonotic. Not currently present in the UK, but endemic in Mediterranean Europe, the Middle East, tropical and subtropical areas
Transmission to people is rare but dogs are an important reservoir for human infection. Infection of humans is more likely if the immune system is compromised (e.g. young and elderly people, pregnant women, chemotherapy patients).
The protozoa cause the production of antibodies directed against the dog’s own antigens (auto-immune disease) causing destruction of body tissues. The incubation period can be as long as 8 years, however, usually clinical signs are seen within a few months.
- Clinical signs wax and wane. They are often non-specific: lethargy, anorexia, high temperature
- Dermatological changes: Exfoliative dermatitis (scaly skin), hyperkeratosis of the footpads (grow thick and scaly), excessive claw growth (onychogryphosis), periorbital alopecia (baldness around the eyes)
- Commonly: anaemia (pale gums), enlarged lymph nodes, shifting lameness, urinary problems
Generally considered a dog disease as it is very rare in cats. Treatment is possible but a cure is unlikely and relapses are common following a course of therapy.
There is a vaccine that has been developed for dogs – CaniLeish.
- Must be separated from all other vaccines by at least two weeks.
- Immunity cannot be relied upon until 4 weeks after the third of these injections
- The vaccine can be used from 6 months of age
- For dogs that have already travelled it is advisable to have a blood test prior to vaccination to check antibody levels to leishmania.
- The primary course of this vaccine consists of three injections each three weeks apart
- A yearly booster is required to maintain immunity
We recommend that if you want your dog vaccinated with CaniLeish to plan well ahead as a minimum of 10 weeks prior to departure is necessary for full immunity before travel
Recommended products for prevention of sandfly bites: Advantix, Scalibor collar
Lyme Disease (Borrelia burgdorferi)
A tick-transmitted disease caused by a spirochete bacteria. It is endemic in the Northern Hemisphere, including UK, Europe, N.America. It is rare in cats
Not all infected animals will develop clinical signs. Clinical signs tend to occur 2 to 5 months after tick exposure:
- Systemic signs: fever, enlarged lymph nodes, anorexia, generally off-colour
- Arthritis: often in multiple joints, can shift between legs, joints may be swollen
- Occasionally other signs may be seen
Diagnosis consists of a blood test or taking some joint fluid. Be aware that the tests aren’t specific for live bacteria, so if your pet’s immune system is winning and the bacteria are dead, it will still test positive.
Treatment consists of an extended course of antibiotics. There are no vaccines available in the UK. Prevention by using tick repelling/killing products: Seresto collar, Scalibor collar, Nexgard, Advantix, Certifect
Canine Ehrlichiosis (Ehrlichia canis, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Anaplasma platys)
Caused by tick-borne parasitic bacterial organisms that invade white blood cells and platelets (depending on species). A.phagocytophilum is endemic in the UK. E.canis and A.platys are endemic in tropical and subtropical southern Europe, Mediterranean and USA.
- E.canis clinical signs: Depression, weight loss, anorexia, bleeding tendencies, ophthalmic signs, neurological signs
- A.phagocytophilum clinical signs: Fever, depression, anorexia, bleeding tendencies, reluctance to move, lame in one or more limb, joint swelling, limb swelling, meningitis (neurological signs)
Treatment includes antibiosis and supporting them with fluids (potentially a blood transfusion) +/- steroids to counter the immune-mediated effects. Prevention by using tick repelling/killing products: Seresto collar, Scalibor collar, Nexgard, Advantix, Certifect
Babesiosis (Babesia canis (three substrains: B.canis canis, B. canis vogeli, B.canis rossi), B.gibsoni)
Protozoal parasite of red blood cells transmitted by ticks. Endemic in southern France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Italy. Also found in USA and South Africa. Ticks transmit the organism to the dog after feeding for 2-3 days.
Infection causes destruction of red blood cells. Clinical signs depend on the strain of Babesia and the dog’s health, age and immune status:
- Acute babesiosis clinical signs: Jaundice (yellow gums or whites of eyes), blood-stained urine, collapse, shock. Can die quickly if untreated!
- Chronic babesiosis clinical signs: Fever, weight loss, sometimes joint pain, swellings and gastrointestinal signs
Diagnosis is by history and blood tests. Treatment includes treating the blood crisis (blood transfusion) in acute cases and implementing appropriate drug therapy. A clinical improvement can often be seen within 24 hours.
There is a vaccine available against B.canis canis, however, there is very little cross-protection against the other strains of protozoa. Prevention is by using tick repelling/killing products, but ensuring manual removal of ticks ASAP. It is also best if travelling to a known tick area to treat with one of the following products prior to exposure: Seresto collar, Scalibor collar, Nexgard, Advantix, Certifect
Recommended parasite control products
- Advantix spot-on is used for the treatment of fleas, lice, ticks (although may not kill them if already attached so remove any already present) in DOGS ONLY, and is also a repellent for sandflies, mosquitoes, and stable flies. If using for sandflies/mosquitoes will need to be applied every 2 weeks. Please be very careful using this product if you have a cat as it is highly toxic and can be fatal if ingested – never allow a cat to groom a dog following application.
- Advocate is a spot-on used for fleas, mites and roundworms including lungworm and heartworm in both dogs, cats and ferrets. It also prevents heartworm but the first application must be one month before travel.
- Certifect spot-on is used for the treatment of fleas, lice and ticks in DOGS ONLY – must be used every 4 weeks to reduce transmission of tick-borne diseases but prevents tick infestation for 5 weeks (will kill those already attached). Can cause neurological signs if ingested
- Nexgard chewable tablet used for the treatment of fleas and ticks in DOGS ONLY
- Prinovox is a spot-on used for fleas, mites and roundworms including lungworm and heartworm in both dogs, cats and ferrets. It also prevents heartworm but the first application must be one month before travel.
- Scalibor collars for dogs control ticks but also prevent feeding by mosquitoes and sandflies. These collars are active for 5-6 months.
- Stronghold spot-on is used for the treatment of fleas, lice, roundworm, hookworm, mange mites, ear mites, and heartworm in dogs and cats.
- Seresto collars kill fleas and ticks but also act as repellents for fleas and ticks. These collars are active for 8 months and can be used in cats and dogs.
If you would like to discuss this further or make an appointment, please contact us.