Updated policies - Find out all the information about our updated policies at the bottom of the page.

Travelling Abroad

Taking your pet abroad

How does it work?

More and more people are taking their pets abroad either for holidays or because they are emigrating. Most dogs and cats can travel under the "Pet Passport scheme" if they are traveling to an eligible country included in the scheme. There are several things to consider when taking an animal abroad the most important being the requirements to enter your chosen country and meeting the requirements to re-enter the UK.

Contact DEFRA for more advice.

In addition, the diseases and parasites your pet encounters abroad are different to those they'll come across in this country. Please speak to the vet about precautions you can take to help prevent these before travelling.

If you return to the UK, please remember to tell us if your pet has traveled abroad.

Pet travel to Europe

From the 1st January 2021, the UK’s status under the EU Pet Travel Scheme changed, meaning that people travelling from Great Britain to the EU and Northern Ireland with their pets including assistance dogs will need to follow new requirements.

The main difference is that UK issued Pet Passports are no longer valid for travel to the EU and Northern Ireland. Instead, an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) will need to be issued for every animal for every journey. The following steps must be followed before an AHC can be issued (the first 4 are the same as the requirements for a Pet Passport):

  1. Ensure that your dog, cat or ferret is microchipped.
  2. Ensure that your dog, cat or ferret is vaccinated against rabies – they must be at least 12 weeks old before they can be vaccinated.
  3. Wait 21 days after the primary vaccination before travel
  4. Dogs must be treated against tapeworm 24-120 hours before landing, if they are travelling to a tapeworm free country.
  5. Visit their vet to get an AHC for their pet, no more than 10 days before travel to the EU.

Pets need to enter the EU through a travellers’ point of entry (TPE), which includes all the major French ports such as Calais, Caen and Dunkirk. The requirements to travel to Northern Ireland are still in discussion but for now we will assume that they are the same as those required for the EU until we hear otherwise. There will be no change to the current health preparations or documents for pets entering Great Britain from the EU or Northern Ireland. It is the owner’s responsibility (not the vet practice) to check the rules of the country they are travelling to for any additional restrictions or requirements before they travel – the number of countries involved and the constantly changing rules means that it is not practical for the practice to keep up to date with all of this information.

Getting an AHC:

Please contact the practice at least 4 weeks before you travel – the AHC needs to be completed no more than 10 days before travel and we will need to put aside the equivalent of 3 normal appointment slots to prepare and check the paperwork, perform the clinical examination and provide any treatments required, and then check and double check (and probably triple check – we don’t want you stranded anywhere!) the paperwork before signing it all off in the very particular way required. We are unable to complete AHCs at the weekend. AHCs can only be completed by veterinary surgeons who have completed an additional qualification, OCQ(V) – CA, to become an ‘Official Veterinarian’ and therefore permitted to carry out pet export work on behalf of the government. Official Veterinarians need to revalidate this qualification every 4 years. Please note that this the cost for every trip as a new AHC will need to be completed each time. (Please see our prcies page regarding costs.)

An AHC will be valid for travel back into the UK, and onward travel within the EU, for 4 months’ after it was issued, or the animal can travel back on a UK passport issued before 1st January 2021.

If the veterinary practice completing the AHC is not the practice that implanted your pet’s microchip and/or carried out the rabies vaccination, then you must provide the vet with legal documentation of proof of your pet’s microchipping date and vaccination history. This does not include a vaccination card as this is not a legal document or regulated. We must be able to obtain clinical history from the vet who carried out the vaccination. Microchip registration documentation would be appropriate proof of microchipping date. If these are not provided then we will not be able to complete the AHC which may impact on your travel plans if you are then unable to obtain this information in time to be able to rearrange your appointment. Please speak to the practice in plenty of time if you are unsure whether you have sufficient proof.

Please note that you do not need an AHC for travel to the EU if you have a Pet Passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland BUT a UK qualified vet is not permitted to make any changes or entries in these passports.

An AHC cannot be issued for commercial imports and exports; in these situations, an Export Health Certificate (EHC) is required – please refer to Centre for International Trade (Carlisle) for more information.

Tropical diseases in Europe and their prevention

Before you take your pet on holiday abroad we recommend you consider the prevention of the following diseases. Not all diseases mentioned are present in all countries.

If you need information on what diseases are prevalent in the local area while on holiday then contact the local vet on arrival. Remember that the local animals have an inherent immunity that helps protect them so local prevention measures may not be sufficient for your pet.

Heartworm

Heartworm is a type of worm that lives in the blood, only the adult females live in the heart. It tends to be more serious in dogs than in cats but can potentially be fatal in both species. It is spread by mosquitoes which carry immature stages of the parasite.

Once infected, an animal may show signs of heart disease or other complications. Treatment involves killing the adult worms in the heart or surgically removing them but both can be associated with problems.

Prevention is easy and based on killing the heartworm larvae before they mature into adults and reach the heart. By using a product - usually monthly - that contains a drug called Avermectin, heartworm should be prevented. This should begin a month before you leave the UK. Equally, avoiding the mosquitoes that carry the parasite will help infection, so avoid walking your dog at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes tend to be most active.

Leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis is a disease mainly of dogs, although rarely it is seen in cats. It is caused by a blood parasite that is spread by sand flies. Often its most noticeable sign is a skin problem but this can rapidly progress to a severe wasting illness caused by multi organ failure. There is a risk to humans from the Leishmania parasite. Often symptoms don't appear to start for years after infection, thus, if you have taken your dog abroad, you should tell your vet whenever they become ill. Treatment is not always successful and will never "cure" your animal which means repeat treatments are often necessary.
 
Prevention is based on your dog avoiding sand fly bites. They are most prevalent from May to September. They are low-level flies which means allowing your dog to sleep in an upstairs room will help avoid bites. Again, avoid walking your dog at dawn and dusk and wearing a collar specifically designed to repel sand flies will help (e.g. Scalibor collars) although it must be changed at the recommended frequency for it to remain effective.

Babesiosis

Babesiosis is a disease caused by a parasite that lives in the blood and is spread by ticks. The parasites can cause a disease where the red blood cells burst and the animal is very sick from internal blood loss.

Treatment will help but there is no treatment that can entirely clear the parasite from your pet so prevention is always recommended. Prevention is by controlling ticks and a suitable anti-tick product.

Vaccines do exist but they don't always offer full protection and they work by stopping clinical signs rather than preventing infection. Also they are specific for the Babesiosis strain in a particular area so a vaccine given in Spain for instance would not offer protection against Babesiosis in Australia.

Ehrlichia

Ehlrichia is another disease spread by ticks. It lives in the blood and the signs of illness can be similar to Babesiosis. It is not uncommon for an animal to concurrently be sick with both parasites.

Treatment is with antibiotics but by the time a diagnosis is made, patients frequently need blood transfusions and other care to stabilise them. Prevention is by controlling ticks and a suitable anti-tick product.

Rabies

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a type of virus. It can affect a wide variety of mammals including man. Behaviour change is the most common sign seen and everyone thinks of the rabid salivating dog when they imagine rabies. However, cats can also be affected and there is a form of the disease which makes the animal very quiet and withdrawn.

Given that your pet needs a rabies vaccination before travelling abroad, they should be at an extremely low risk of contracting it. However, you should be careful about approaching other dogs, cats and other animals (especially strays) when travelling abroad since their rabies status is unknown.

There is no treatment for rabies and it is usually fatal. Due to the human health risks, animals suspected of having it are normally euthanased.

We recommend:

  • Once monthly treatment to prevent heartworm (start 1 month before leaving the UK)
  • Fitting your dog with a Scalibor collar to protect against sand flies and thus Leishmaniasis
  • Allow your dog or cat to sleep upstairs at night if possible (to avoid midges)
  • Don't walk your dog at dusk or dawn and preferably not on the beach (to avoid midges)
  • Don't let your dog associate with any stray dogs or sick looking animals
If you require any further information or advice, please get in touch.

If you require any further information or advice, please get in touch.

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Purton Surgery

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01793 771869
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Bath Road Cricklade Swindon SN6 6AT
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01793 771869