Travelling pets

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					Travelling pets
Until recently the UK had quarantine requirements for cats and dogs entering the UK from abroad. Many regarded the rules as draconian, most famously Chris Patten whose dogs, Whisky & Soda had to undergo quarantine when he returned from his posting as governor of Hong Kong. The quarantine rules were relaxed recently, as long as the animal had complied with the regulations of the Pet Travel Scheme [PETS]. The PETS scheme requirements are strict and there is a considerable period of time involved, seven months from start to finish, so an owner considering taking their pet abroad next summer should already be setting things in motion.

What has to be done in the PETS scheme?
The sequence of events is as follows: 1. The animal must be microchipped. This was discussed in my July article and is a good idea for pets anyway. 2. The animal must have its microchip scanned before being vaccinated against Rabies. 3. 21-28 days after the Rabies vaccination the animal must again have its microchip scanned, and then a blood sample taken to be tested for, and show it has sufficient, rabies antibodies. 4. Once the laboratory has reported a satisfactory Rabies antibody level, the animal must have its microchip scanned again, and then a passport is issued.

When can my pet travel abroad?
Animals can leave the UK, for European countries, one month after the date of the rabies vaccination.

When can my pet return to the UK?
Here is the reason for planning ahead, as your pet cannot re-enter the UK for a period of 6 months[less one day] after the date of the blood sample for rabies antibodies.

Any other considerations?
Apart from ensuring your accommodation abroad is prepared to accept pets there are three main considerations: * Climate: Is your pet going to adapt easily to the climate where you are holidaying? If it is used to British summers with temperatures will it cope with the hot weather in southern Europe? You should also ask your vet for their opinion as to whether your pet has any health problems which might preclude safe travel, for example heart trouble. * Exotic diseases: There are several diseases your pet will not have encountered before and which can cause serious illness. Ticks transmit a blood parasite called Babesia, which causes a disease similar to malaria where the dog’s red blood cells are destroyed. Babesiosis can be treated if caught early enough, but the dog often requires intensive supportive therapy. Sand flies can transmit a disease called Leishmaniasis which causes a nasty skin disease which can be extremely difficult to treat and can also lead to multi-organ symptoms. In endemic areas it is estimated 1 in a 100 sand flies are carrying the Leishmania organism, which doesn’t sound a lot, but if you consider the clouds of insects seen it is a definite risk. The risk of exposure to both these diseases may be reduced and your vet will be able to advise you which medication you should use to keep ticks and sand flies away from your dog. * Returning to the UK: You will also have to have your pet treated by DEFRA approved medicines to kill tapeworms and ticks between 24-48 hours before returning to the UK. This usually means an overnight stay at a channel port and using a vet local to the embarkation point.

What of the future?
A recent paper in the Veterinary Record reported the unfortunate death of a dog from Kent, which had never left the UK, following babesiosis. It emerged from the history that the dog used to play in areas around the lorry park at Ashford and it is presumed it

picked up ticks which had been transported from Europe. Although the risks are small they are present, but as long as remain vigilant this should not prevent your pet enjoying its holiday!

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