Travelling Abroad with Your Dog or Cat

It has never been easier to take your pet abroad on holiday with you and your family; however, there are a few important things to consider before you travel with your cat or dog.

It is important to remember that although you may think that it is a nice idea to take your pet on holiday with you – your pet may not agree.  It can be quite stressful for your pet to travel long distances by varying modes of transport.  If you are only going for a short time and your pet gets stressed, it may be kinder to leave them at home.

If you do want to take your pet on holiday to the EU and bring them back into the UK, the following steps are all that are needed:

  • Your pet must have a microchip
  • Your pet must have been vaccinated against rabies. You must wait 21 days from the date of the vaccination before travelling. The day of vaccination counts as day 0 and not day 1.
  • Your pet must have a pet passport or third-country official veterinary certificate.
  • Dogs must have had a tapeworm treatment no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before re-entry to the UK.
  • You must use an approved transport company and an approved route unless you’re travelling between the UK and Ireland.

Please visit the Government website for the most up to date travel information, particularly if you are travelling outside the EU:

https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad

There is no longer a requirement for dogs or cats to be treated for ticks 24-48 hours before coming back into the UK.  However, we would strongly advise that you not only treat for ticks just before returning to the UK, but also keep tick protection up to date throughout your trip.

The pet passport is designed to protect human health from the spread of rabies and tapeworm.  However, your dog will be exposed to other diseases which are not present in the UK when they travel to Europe and beyond.  Therefore we recommend that you treat your dog to help prevent these diseases.

 

 

Infectious diseases your pet will be exposed to in Europe:

Rabies

Rabies can infect most mammals – the route of infection is usually via an infected dog bite.  The disease causes an ascending paralysis and is usually fatal.  It is important to plan ahead, make sure the rabies vaccine is done at least 21 days before travel.

Tick–borne diseases

Erhlichia and Babesia are diseases present in Europe.  In fact, you may have read in the news that a few cases of Babesia have recently been identified in the UK in dogs who have not travelled abroad.

Babesia is caused by protozoan parasites that are transmitted by ticks.  These protozoans are attracted to red blood cells.  Infection leads to a severe anaemia which may lead to symptoms including sudden weakness and collapse, and red urine.

Ehrlichiosis is caused by a tick-transmitted intracellular bacteria that invades white blood cells and in some cases, platelets.  Clinical signs include intermittent fever and bleeding.

Both diseases are fatal if left untreated, but if recognised and treated promptly – dogs can make a full recovery.  However, with both diseases prevention is better than cure.  We advise using a prescription tick product which kills ticks within 24 hours of them biting (disease transmission is usually 24-48 hours after the tick bites).

Tapeworm

The large tapeworm Echinococcus can infect dogs in Europe.  This worm is asymptomatic in dogs, but can cause fatal disease in humans.  The tapeworm treatment given 24- 120 hours before returning to the UK will be sufficient to treat this parasite.

Leishmania

Leishmania is a disease spread by sandflies.  Sandflies are insects which live in the Mediterranean basin.  Leishmania is a severe disease which can cause arthritis, liver, and kidney failure.  In order to prevent this disease there is a vaccination which can be used.  In addition, preventative treatments which kill sandflies are also recommended.

Heartworm

This worm is spread via mosquitos.  Heartworm’s settle in the heart and block the passage of blood within the heart.  This can lead to heart failure if left untreated.

 

Due to the risk of these exotic diseases infecting your pet on its travels, we recommend that you discuss preventative health treatment with your vet at least a month before you travel.