Travelling with your pet is so easy now thanks to the Pet Passport Scheme. We’ve highlighted the most important rules as well as some preventative health measures you should carry out to ensure you and your pet enjoy a smooth journey…
What you need to do if you are entering the UK from the EU and listed non-EU countries: (must be carried out in this order!)
All dogs, cats and ferrets can enter or re-enter the UK without quarantine provided they meet the rules of the Scheme, which are different depending on which country the animal is coming from. Animals which do not meet all the rules must be licensed into quarantine. They might then be able to obtain early release if they can be shown to comply with the necessary pet travel.
What you need to do if you are entering the UK from unlisted non-EU countries:
- Have your pet microchipped. This is now a legal requirement in England, Scotland and Wales. You will be served a 21-day notice to have your pet microchipped and registered – failure to do so could result in a £500 fine.
- Rabies vaccination. After the microchip has been fitted your pet must be vaccinated against rabies There is no exemption to this requirement, even if your pet has a current rabies vaccination. The length of waiting period before you can re-enter the UK is 21 days after the vaccination date – this is because your pet isn’t protected against rabies until 21 days after its vaccination. All pets must be at least 12 weeks old before being vaccinated for the purposes of travel.
- Arrange a blood test. The blood sample must be taken at least 30 days after rabies vaccination to make sure your pet has a satisfactory level of protection against rabies. The length of waiting period before entry to the UK is three calendar months from the date your vet took the blood test. However, you don’t have to wait this long if your pet has an EU pet passport and its vaccination and blood test were done in the EU and recorded in the passport.
- Get pet travel documentation. You will need an official third country veterinary certificate. You will also need to fill out a declaration confirming that your aren’t going to sell or transfer ownership of your pet.
- Tapeworm treatment. Dogs must visit a vet 24-120 hours (1-5 days) before your scheduled arrival back into the UK. They will administer a wormer to treat for tapeworms. This is because the UK does not have Echinococcus (a type of tapeworm) which can infect humans and cause liver disease that can be fatal. There is now no requirement for tick treatment.
- Head home on an authorised travel route. You’ll have to arrange for your animal to travel with you via an approved transport company to enter England, Scotland or Wales.
There may also be additional requirements and paperwork if you are travelling to certain non-EU countries from the UK. It’s a good idea to contact the authorities or embassy of the country you will be travelling to/from. The rules constantly change so always obtain the most up-to-date information to avoid problems when you are travelling.
Preventative health care for your pet while travelling
Depending on where and when you are travelling you will need to protect your pet against exotic diseases. Many diseases occurring abroad, but not seen in the UK, are transmitted by biting insects and ticks. British pets abroad will not have met these diseases before and are likely to be highly susceptible. Speak to your vet at least one month before you intend to travel to discuss what preventative measures you need to take.
- Babesiosis – This is relatively common in southern and central Europe and is extending further north with climate change and is spread by ticks. When the tick feeds, saliva is injected into the host together with the Babesia organisms, which invade and multiply in red blood cells. Affected animals develop fever, anaemia, weakness, lethargy, weight loss, loss of appetite and red or dark brown urine. This can be associated with jaundice (yellow gums). Without treatment, death can occur.
- Ehrlichiosis – is widely distributed throughout the world, including many countries of southern Europe. Symptoms of this disease vary widely and may include depression, fever, swollen glands and bleeding into the eyes, from the nose, into the skin (bruising) and elsewhere. Less common signs include vomiting, nasal discharge, lameness and severe inflammatory changes in the eyes. Chronic infections may progress to chronic debility, weight loss, arthritis and neurological disease including convulsions.
- Heartworm – is spread by mosquitoes. Signs of infection usually appear over several months to years depending on the severity of infection. These include weakness during exercise, coughing, weight loss, and occasionally right-sided heart failure or sudden death from lung haemorrhage. Treatment once the dog is infected is difficult and may be associated with side effects.
- Leishmaniasis – the disease is a protazoan parasite spread by sandflies. Most common symptoms include dermatitis and skin infection, weight loss and eye, liver and kidney disease. If untreated the disease is fatal and even with therapy affected animals may remain permanently infected. Symptoms can develop from a few months to several years after a visit abroad. Diagnosis can be confirmed by testing blood or tissue samples.
- Hepatozoonosis – This is a relatively widespread disease of dogs (less commonly cats) with a global distribution in warmer climates, including the countries bordering the Mediterranean. It is caused by a protozoan parasite and transmitted to dogs by grooming off and swallowing infected ticks. Many infected dogs do not show signs of disease unless they have other diseases causing immunosuppression. Infection is diagnosed by testing a blood sample. Treatment is difficult and requires access to drugs which may not always be available.
Remember: PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE!