It is increasingly common for people to take their pets with them when they travel abroad, especially if they are travelling by road.
However, this should not be undertaken lightly, and this seems an appropriate time of year to think about the issues involved.
The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) permits the movement of pet animals (dogs, cats and ferrets) to and from other EU member states and approved non-EU countries without the need for quarantine.
Many diseases that occur abroad are not seen in the UK and several of them are transmitted by biting insects and ticks. Pets living in the UK will not have met these diseases before travelling abroad and are likely to be highly susceptible.
The travel scheme allows for the free movement of pets from country to country, but it is important that this should not be undertaken without serious thought.
You need to consider if your pet is likely to be affected by the stress of long-distance travel, the high temperatures in many southern European countries, and the risk of exposure to diseases not encountered in the UK.
Many of these exotic diseases do not have licensed veterinary medicines available in the UK, which means that there can sometimes be a delay in obtaining the correct drugs as they need to be imported from abroad.
To comply with PETS, your pet must:
• Be positively identified by means of a microchip.
• Have an up-to-date vaccination against rabies.
• Be issued with a new numbered EU pet passport (from December 29, 2014) by your vet. Old-style passports will remain valid.
• Wait 21 days after the initial rabies vaccination before travelling.
• Travel into the UK on an approved route.
• Dogs must be treated by a vet for tapeworm between 24 and 120 hours (one to five days) before arrival into the UK and the pet passport signed accordingly. No treatment is required for dogs entering from Finland, Ireland or Malta.
We strongly recommend that you make an appointment with your vet for a pre-travel consultation before taking your pet abroad.
This should be at least three weeks before you travel as some of the medicines used for the prevention of diseases must be started before you leave the UK.
This important check will involve:
• Discussing the countries you intend to travel to and what specific health risks your pet may be exposed to.
• A clinical examination of your pet to ensure it is fit to travel abroad.
• Checking that the rabies vaccination and pet passport are up to date.
• Ensuring the microchip is working and reading correctly.
• Discussing the preventative treatment needed to protect your pet against ticks, sandflies, heartworm and tapeworm whilst abroad.
• Prescribing the most effective medication for your pet and showing you how to administer it.
For a list of approved non-EU countries you can refer to the website www.gov.uk/pet-travel-information-for-pet-owners#countriesand-territories
For animals travelling to the UK from a non-EU listed country, the vet abroad will issue an official third country veterinary certificate.
Further information on pet travel is available from a number of services.
You can call the Pet Travel Scheme helpline on 0370 241 1710. It is open Monday to Friday, from 8am to 6pm.
Alternatively, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
And there is also a Government website to help. It can be found at www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/overview
If you require any further information, or wish to book a pet travel consultation, Alnorthumbria Vets will be happy to help.