Pet Travel Scheme (PETS)
Compliance with the pet travel scheme (PETS) has allowed cats, dogs and ferrets to travel within the EU and other approved EU countries, and return to the UK without having to be placed in quarantine. The main aim of PETS is to prevent the introduction of rabies and the tapeworm, Echinococcus multilocularis into the UK.
What does my pet need to travel?
Check the country you are travelling to is PETS approved. You can do this by visiting the DEFRA website at www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad or call them on 0870 241 1710.
Have a permanent microchip implanted that can be read by any standard microchip reader.
Vaccinate against rabies after microchipping using an approved vaccine (must not be given before the animal is 12 weeks old). Boosters must be given at the manufactures recommended intervals. There is no longer a requirement for a blood test following rabies vaccination.
The PETS passport must be issued and signed by an official veterinary surgeon (OV). Not all of our vets are OVs so please check when making your appointment with us.
Following initial vaccine (and any lapsed boosters) there is a 21 day waiting period before travelling abroad and/or entry into the UK is allowed.
For dogs only there remains a statutory requirement for veterinary certified tapeworm treatment prior to entry into the UK. A wormer, containing the active ingredient praziquantel, must be given 24-120 hours before entering the UK. This requirement is designed to ensure the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, a parasite dangerous to human health, remains outside the UK.
On re-entry to the UK you are also likely to need to sign a declaration stating your pet has not been outside any of the qualifying countries whilst abroad.
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 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
Avoid areas that have a high mosquito and tick population
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 www.cvbd.org and www.fleatickrisk.com
Please come and chat to us, so we can help tailor a programme to suit the specific needs of your trip!