PET TRAVEL SCHEME
The EU and some other countries (see DEFRA website; www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad) participate in the Pet Travel Scheme. This means that providing your pet fulfils certain conditions and has a passport it can travel to and from these countries. The legislation changes periodically and is predominantly geared to allowing the EU ideals of the free movement of people and their pets throughout the single market with some concessions to the situation of the UK maintaining is status as a rabies free island and public health. It is much less concerned with pet health and the onus is on you to avoid your pet being at risk from some of the exotic diseases present in Europe that are not present in the UK
To get a pet passport your animal first must be identichipped – so that it is securely identified – and then vaccinated against rabies. It is then free to travel in 3 weeks. The need for a blood test to check the vaccines efficacy has been withdrawn. Between 1 and 5 days prior to reimportation the dog needs to wormed with a drug effective against Echinococcus multilocularis. This is a tapeworm we do not have and do not want in the UK. In Europe it is expanding its range due to increasing fox populations and increased dog movements. If it comes into the country it will almost certainly become established in foxes and be impossible to get rid of. It can affect humans where it causes cysts that damage the liver. It is untreatable in man and fatal. This worm treatment has to be done by a veterinary surgeon and stamped in the passport. The necessity for tick treatment prior to reimportation has been dropped. However it is important that tick treatment is given throughout the time the animal is abroad to reduce the risk to that animal of contracting tick-borne diseases and to reduce the importation of european tick species that transmit these diseases. Already populations of continental tick species have become established in the south east of the UK and in areas of the Welsh coast and Welsh/Shropshire border.
Travel to and from non EU countries can considerably more complex and can involve a lot of documentation and blood tests (Australia and New Zealand in particular). It is your responsibility to check with Authorities in the destination country as to what the requirements are.
In addition there may be other local hazards depending on where you are travelling e.g pine processionary moth caterpillar in Spain which can be very harmful to dogs.
AVOIDING EXOTIC DISEASES
There are many diseases present in Europe that we do not have in the UK that you do not want your pet to acquire – they can be difficult to diagnose and treat and the drugs needed to treat them may not be readily available in the UK. If your pet is ill and has ever been abroad please let the vet know as they may need to consider diseases we rarely see. For a short holiday always consider the risks of both exotic diseases (and heat stroke!) and practicalities before taking your pet abroad. The further south and east in Europe the greater the risk of most of these diseases.
These disease include Rabies, Leishmania (also affects people), Babesia, Erlichia, Hepatozoanosis, and Heartworm. Many of these diseases are transmitted by insect (tick, mosquito and sandfly) bites. Although tick treatment prior to re entry to the UK is no longer legally required tick treatment during your pets trip and on reimportation is advisable to stop your pet becoming infected and to avoid infected ticks (and these diseases) becoming established in the UK.
Preventative measures mean avoiding ticks, mosquitoes and sandflies that transmit these diseases and should be started 2 weeks prior to leaving the country. We caqn supplytablets that give flea and tick control for 3 months and so is very useful in travelling dogs, Our standard worming tablet and some monthly spot one should prevent heartworm, and a Scalibor collar will reduce the chance of sand fly and mosquito bites. The use of our routine worming tablet monthly also protects against lungworm and tapeworms. As the tapeworm Echinococcus is something that can affect people and something we want to avoid becoming established in the UK. Animals should be checked regularly for ticks and any found removed. Take a tick remover with you – these make tick removal easy to do properly. Walking in wooded areas at dawn and dusk should be avoided to avoid insect bites. All these products are available at the practice.
Very recently a vaccine against leishmaniais has become available.
It involves a course of 3 injections at 3 week intervals and annual boosters. Dogs that may have already been exposed to leishamania should have a blood test pre vaccination. The vaccine is not 100% effective (@90% protection) so avoiding sandfly bites is still recommended. In endemic areas the vaccine is recommended by the World Health Organisation as infected dogs act as a resevoir of infection for people (please note; you cannot catch leishmania from contact with an infected dog - only from a bite from a sandfly that has fed from an infected dog).
More information on avoiding exotic diseases can be found on this leaflet produced by the British Veterinary Association;