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Pet Travel

We all need a holiday!

Pet travel: to and from Great Britain

From 1st January 2021 the rules on movement of pet dogs, cats and ferrets between Great Britain and the EU and between GB and Northern Ireland have changed now that we are no longer an EU member state. EU pet passports can no longer be issued. Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), as well as the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, are now to become a Part 2 listed third country under the EU Pet Travel Scheme.

What does my pet need to travel?

  • rabies vaccine given at least 21 days prior to travelling
  • a microchip implanted
  • an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) completed WITHIN 10 days of travelling. The AHC is valid for one journey only, for up to 4 months onward travel
  • Always check the current rules. You can do this by visiting the government website at or call them on 0870 241 1710

​If you are planning on taking your pet abroad please give the practice plenty of notice, when making an appointment for an AHC we will need to know your travel date and port of entry into the EU so we can obtain the relevant paperwork for you.

Disease risks to your pet while abroad

With British dogs and cats now travelling much more freely abroad, a large number are being exposed to diseases that they would never have encountered before. Many of these diseases are transmitted by biting insects and ticks. Owners should be aware of the diseases that their pets may potentially come across whilst abroad and how to prevent them.

Diseases transmitted by Biting Insects


Leishmaniasis is an infectious disease of dogs transmitted by sandflies. Cats may also develop the disease, however it is much less common. It is found particularly in countries bordering the Mediterranean, South America, the Middle East and the tropics, and is therefore quite prevalent in dogs imported/rescued from the Continent. Signs can take years to develop after infection due to a long incubation period. Common symptoms may include skin problems, weight loss, liver and kidney disease with some affected animals having a ‘sad’ look. The disease can be fatal if untreated and is incurable, treatment only forces the disease into remission and isn’t always successful.

Sandflies only come out at night so we would advise that dogs are kept indoors from sunset to dawn during the peak period of April to October. It is important that your pet is treated with a drug that acts to repel sandflies if travelling to an at risk area. Vaccination against this disease is available but not widely used.

Heartworm (Dirofilaria)

Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes and is found around the Mediterranean coast and many other parts of the world. After infection the larval worms grow into adults that live in the lungs and the heart, a process that takes about six months. It may take many years before signs develop and these include exercise intolerance, breathing difficulties and heart failure. Preventative treatment should always be given if your dog is travelling to a Heartworm area. Although less likely to occur in cats treatment against Heartworm is advised if travelling to endemic areas.

Diseases transmitted by Ticks


This is found throughout Europe, adjacent countries and Africa; there have even been a few reported cases in the UK. Babesia is primarily a disease of dogs affecting the red blood cells. Transmission occurs via tick bites and signs usually occur within a few days to weeks of travel. Affected animals develop a fever, weakness, anaemia and lethargy, sudden death may also occur. It is important to make sure your pet has adequate anti-tick protection given at the correct intervals (this may be different to your tick control regime in the UK).


Ehrlichia and Anaplasma are transmitted by ticks and are widespread throughout Southern European countries. This intracellular bacteria likes to live within and affect white blood cells (Ehrlichia) and platelets (Anaplasma). The bacteria may be transmitted via biting from the tick to your pet in as little as 3 hours. Animals affected develop fever, inappetence, difficulty breathing, oedema (swelling), vomiting, nose bleeds and neurological signs. Unfortunately, most dogs do not survive.

Lyme Disease (Lyme Borreliosis)

Prevalent throughout Europe and surrounding countries, Lyme disease is spread by tick bites and can also affect people. Signs include:

  • lameness
  • depression
  • fever
  • kidney and liver disease and cardiac disease.

As the time of transmission of disease from the tick into your pet depends on the disease in question, adequate appropriate protection is a must. A repellent product greatly reduces the risk of disease transmission compared to products that require the tick to bite.

Recommended protection protocols

In order to reduce the risk to your pet whilst abroad we recommend using a preventative parasite programme that has been based on the country and specific area you are visiting. This may be a combination of spot on treatments, tablets and/or collars. If you are staying with friends, ask them to speak to the local vet for advice on diseases in their area.

Other preventative measures

  • Keep animals indoors from just before dusk until just after sunrise
  • Use insecticides/repellents to control flies/mosquitoes indoors
  • In ‘at risk’ areas, daily tick checks and removal is recommend even if using an anti-tick product. The most common areas for ticks to be are the ears, armpits, toes, head and around the tail. Don’t forget that ticks can be very small so check very carefully
  • We would always advise that you check the risk to your pet in the area you are travelling to as this varies with season and weather conditions. Useful websites include and
  • Avoid areas that have a high mosquito and tick population

Please come and chat to us, so we can help tailor a programme to suit the specific needs of your trip!

  • Travelling with your dog
  • Travelling with your cat

Travelling with your dog

As we enter spring and begin to plan our summer holidays and days out, now is the time to start considering how you are going to travel with your pet.  There have been recent changes to the legislation regarding travelling with animals, so we thought we’d provide you with our top tips for a safe journey.

The Highway Code now states that:

‘When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.  A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.’


Before you leave, check that you have the following essentials:

  • Emergency supplies – it’s a good idea to pack a first aid for your pet with a few essentials to help you in unforeseen circumstances.  Diarrhoea treatment, antihistamines, antiseptic wash, shampoo, extra flea/worm treatment are all examples of what you could pack
  • Food/ water bowls – dogs can easily overheat in cars, especially on warm days so make sure that you offer water and if you’re going on a long journey, you may need to stop regularly
  • Lead/ collar – although microchipping of dogs is now mandatory, remember it is also a legal requirement for them to have an identification tag attached to their collar (including you surname, house number, postcode, phone number)
  • Poo bags – again poop scooping is a must and failure to do so may cost you a fine of up to £1000.00
  • Blankets/ bedding – to ensure your pet is comfortable and warm
  • A secure method of restraint - such as a crate or harness

Restraint Techniques

Whilst your dog may love riding along with their head out of the windows and ears flapping in the wind, the reality is it may prove very dangerous.  Unrestrained animals can hurt themselves or other people should an accident occur, or they may even be the cause of the accident.  Here are the most common and effective ways to restrain your animal:

Why do I always have to sit in the middle?

  • Dog guard – can be used to separate the boot from the main area of the car, although the animal is still able to slide around
  • Seat belt harness – if your dog is going to be sat on a seat.  This device is similar to a normal harness but has an extra strap to attach it to the car seatbelt.
  • Pet carrier – ideal for small dogs, but should be fastened either with a seatbelt or placed in the foot well
  • Dog cage – available in different sizes.  Crates should be big enough to allow the dog to stand up but not slide around and should be structurally sound, well-ventilated and securely fastened in the boot

Travelling with your cat

Most cats are not particularly happy travellers – they are usually bonded strongly to their own territory and feel very vulnerable off home ground.

​The rewards of staying with the family 'pack' or the potential of exploring or walking somewhere new at the end of the journey do not excite the average feline in the same way as its canine cousins.

​If you wish to take your cat on a train/car or air journey you will have to ensure it is safely and comfortably secure in an appropriate carrier and is kept confined at the end of the journey, at least until it has become bonded to the new territory.

​Of course you get the occasional cat which travels frequently with its owner and does not panic or run off in a new environment, however, these are few and far between.

Travelling by car

It can be very dangerous to have a cat loose in the car – not only could it cause an accident by becoming entangled with the driver, but if a window or door was opened or an accident occurred, the cat could escape and become lost.

​You will need to invest in a carrier which is strong and easy to clean should the cat urinate or defecate or become sick during the journey. There are a wide range to choose from – wicker, solid plastic, fibre-glass, plastic-coated wire mesh etc. It is best to avoid the cardboard or very cheap, light plastic boxes which are suitable for short journeys or very temporary confinement but would not be strong enough for longer periods, especially if they became wet.

Also consider the weather you will be travelling in – both your present situation and the likely temperature of your destination. If it is likely to be very hot then use a basket which allows a good air flow through – if it is going to be cold then one which can provide draft-free warmth while still allowing a good air flow would be useful. If your car journey is going to lead to another type of travel, eg, in a plane, then you need to find out the type of carrier which the airline prefers or demands (see later).

​If you have a large metal pen (such as those used for a dog when in the back of the car) then you may wish to put your cat in this, however, do bear in mind that larger is not necessarily better when it comes to the cat feeling safe and secure. Cats quite like to sit in a small space and are unlikely to move around a great deal anyway. If you are using a larger crate which fits in the back of the car you will still need a small carrier which can be carried to and from the car to keep the cat safe at either ends of the journey. If you are using a large crate you may be able to provide the cat with a litter tray although it is unlikely that it will actually use it during the journey. It may be better to line the carrier well with newspaper and absorbent cloth in case an accident happens, and take some spare familiar-smelling bedding if you need to replace it. 

Using the carrier

Place the carrier where it will be secure if you have to brake suddenly but where it has a good air flow – ie, not underneath lots of other luggage in the back of the car. Do not put the cat in the boot and take care with the rear of hatchbacks – ventilation may be poor and the cat may overheat. You can secure the carrier behind one of the front seats or use the seat belt to make sure it is held securely on the seat. The cat may meow initially or even throughout the whole journey – speak calmly and reassuringly to it but resist letting it out of its carrier. The noise will probably drive you mad but the cat is unlikely to be suffering; just voicing its dislike of the situation! Eventually the constant motion and noise of the car will probably induce it to sleep or at least to settle down.

Check the cat regularly, especially if the weather is hot – don't underestimate how rapidly the temperature inside a car can rise - bear this in mind if you stop for a refreshment break and leave the cat in the car. Put the car in the shade and leave windows open – if it is very hot take a picnic and eat it nearby with the cat secure in its carrier outside the car or with all the doors open. Heat-stroke can be a killer.

For cats the production of a carrier usually means a trip to the veterinary surgery so they are often not too keen to get into it! Take time to let the cat become accustomed to the carrier or travel crate well before the journey. Make it a pleasant place to be – feed the cat treats inside it and make a cosy bed of familiar smelling bedding which can be used on the journey. Leave the door open and encourage the cat to go in and out and to sleep in it. Then, when it comes to the actual journey, the cat is at least familiar with its immediate environment.

​If you have more than one cat it is better to give them separate carriers which allows better flow through of air, more room and less chance of overheating. Even the best of friends may become stressed during a journey and behave in an uncharacteristic way such as becoming agitated with each other; separate carriers will prevent any injury. If they can at least see and hear each other they may be comforted by that.

​Withhold food for about four to five hours before the journey in case the cat is sick while travelling. Offer water up to the time you leave and again during the journey if possible. You can buy bowls which attach to cages so they are not spilled by the cat during the journey and are easy to fill without opening the cage should there be a delay during the journey.

Information in this article sourced from icatcare.  For further details please visit their website-

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