Love your pet… love your vet
Planning your trip abroad this summer? Did you know you can now take your pet with you? Find out what you have to do…
Rabies can affect all mammals, including humans, and the disease is zoonotic, meaning it can spread from animals to people, commonly by a dog, bat or monkey bite.
The disease is mainly prevalent in Asia, America and Africa, but some European countries are also affected. Rabies is a particularly nasty disease and symptoms can include loss of appetite, fever, paralysis, aggression, hydrophobia and ultimately death.
Classical rabies was eradicated from the UK in 1922 and thanks to quarantine regimes, the country has remained free from rabies ever since. More recently, quarantine has been replaced by the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) which requires pets travelling abroad to be vaccinated against rabies.
Since the launch of PETS over 350,000 animals have entered the UK. In addition to vaccination against rabies, there are a number of other important things that you need to consider if you wish to travel with your pet this year:
- Your pet must have a permanent microchip implanted before the rabies vaccination. This chip must meet ISO specifications so that it can be read by any standard microchip reader
- Two vaccines against rabies are recommended to ensure your pet passes the blood test that is required
- A blood sample must be taken (by your vet) after your pet is vaccinated against rabies. This is tested at an approved laboratory to check immunity against the disease
- Your pet must have a PETS passport signed by a veterinary surgeon, confirming that the above conditions have been met. Some countries may need additional certification or other requirements before admitting your pet and you should check with a Defra Animal Health Officer before you travel. Alternatively visit the DEFRA website at www.defra.go.v.uk (wildlife and pets) for more information
- Your pet must be treated for ticks and tapeworms 24-48 hours prior to the return journey back to the UK and an official certificate must be obtained from a veterinary surgeon to confirm this treatment
- You will need to sign a declaration stating that your pet has not been outside any of the qualifying countries in the six months before re-entering the UK
It is also advisable to think about any additional diseases that your dog may be exposed to whilst abroad, particularly if you’re travelling to Mediterranean countries. These include leishmaniasis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, hepatozoonosis and heartworm.
You should contact your vet a month or more prior to your travel dates to ensure all necessary preventative measures are taken and to check all relevant paperwork is in place.
Finally, remember to pack a pet bag! Take things like favourite toys, a blanket, food, water and a grooming kit. Also, make sure that your pet is comfortable for the journey, with plenty of room to lie down and turn around.
Chris Devlin is a vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen. For more information visit www.hillsidevets.co.uk.