Are you planning to take your pet away on holiday? Here at Twickenham Veterinary Surgery, our vets are trained to deal with all aspects of overseas pet travel. We can certify government export certificates, issue private health certificates and issue pet passports. There are however various requirements for the pet passport scheme and there are lots of things to consider; one of the main aspects being the potential disease implications of international travel. Below are some details for the PETS scheme and links to the DEFRA PETS scheme website.
Which countries are included in the scheme?
Resident pets in the UK can travel to EU and non EU countries, including long haul destinations, and return to the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme without going into quarantine, provided all the regulations are adhered to. An updated list of the countries involved in the scheme can be obtained from the DEFRA website, or by calling the PETS helpline on 0370 214 1710.
Routes and travel
An approved route and travel company must be used. These are regularly updated, so you must check them before booking your return trip to the UK. Some companies have their own additional conditions of travel. Please note, you may not bring a pet into the UK under the PETS scheme from a private boat or plane.
Requirements of the PETS scheme
On 1st January 2012, the rules for the Pet Passport Scheme and animals entering the UK changed. Under the new rules
- Animals must be microchipped
- They must have a rabies vaccination (three weeks before re-entering the UK)
- Animals originating from abroad must be blood tested and wait three months from the rabies blood test before entering the UK
- Animals must have the tapeworm treatment five days to 24 hours before re-entering the UK (the relevant section of the Pet Passport must be signed by the veterinarian administering the treatment and the time and date must be entered in the passport)
Some useful pointers (ticks)
The lack of tick treatment upon entering the UK means we are more likely to see more ticks coming into the UK from abroad. We therefore think that it is imperative that you treat your pets against ticks before, during and after a visit abroad. You should then continue to treat your pet against ticks all year round.
Some useful pointers (rabies)
Without testing your pet’s blood for the rabies antibody, we cannot tell if they actually have adequate levels of immunity should he or she come into contact with rabies. While the risk of rabies in much of Western Europe is relatively low, there are a substantial number of countries in the EU and on the EU list where there is still a problem with rabies in wildlife reservoirs in countries such as Italy, Poland, Baltic States, Russia, USA and many others. You can find more information on rabies high risk countries on the Health Protection Agency website (www.hpa.org.uk).
Rabies has even been found in vaccinated dogs. If you decide to take your vaccinated pet to an area where they could be exposed to rabies, you have a 5% chance that your pet could fail to respond to their rabies vaccination. This will not only put your pet at risk, but you and your family too. If you are planning to go to a high risk country, multiple doses of rabies vaccine, rabies serology and, if necessary, rabies boosting shortly before travel is advisable.
The WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) latest guidelines advise giving a booster one year after the initial rabies vaccination and then giving the booster every three years, unless you are taking your pet to an area where rabies is endemic, in which case it is advised to follow the local rules and recommendations.
Leishmaniosis: This is an intracellular protozoan parasite, transmitted by sand flies (Phlebotomus and Lutzomyia). Infected dogs can act as a reservoir for infection for other dogs. Infection causes weight loss, enlarged lymph nodes and can lead to symptoms that mimic autoimmune disease, affecting most body systems, notably the skin. Prevention is achieved by decreasing exposure to sand flies (fly repellent such as a Scalibor collar, avoid being outside between dusk and dawn). Note that this disease can also affect humans.
Babesiosis: This is an intracellular protozoan parasite, transmitted by ticks. Infection causes high fever, weakness, anorexia, haemolytic anaemia and, eventually, jaundice and death. Prevention involves aggressive tick control. Treatment should be given seven days before travel, and repeated at the correct interval during travel. In addition, a daily ‘tick watch’ should be performed - do not touch the ticks, use a tick hook (available at our reception) and destroy the tick.
Ehrlichiosis: A bacterial infection transmitted by ticks: the bacterium infects white blood cells and platelets and can lead to severe bleeding disorders. Prevention as for Babesiosis.
Heartworm: Prevent by treating with Nexgard Spectra, Veloxa or Milbemax before and during travel.
Useful information sources
PETS helpline: 0370 241 1710 (8.30am - 5.00pm weekdays)
Remember to ALWAYS check with the authorities in your country of destination to make sure they have no additional requirements. Also protect your pet against diseases present in your country of destination.