Travelling with your pet

Taking your pet on holiday with you may seem like a great idea, after all they are part of the family. However, it is really important to consider carefully the health and welfare implications for them when travelling abroad, and to make preparations well in advance.

dog-swimmingpoolThe Pet Travel Scheme allows cats, dogs and ferrets to enter/return to the UK without spending time in quarantine, provided they meet certain rules:

  1. Your pet must have a readable microchip.
  2. Your micro-chipped pet must be vaccinated against Rabies at least 21 days before travel and get boosters on time.
  3. Obtain certification - in the UK this involves issue of a Pet Passport.
  4. Dogs must be treated for Tapeworm by a vet 1-5 days before arriving back into UK. (This is to prevent the introduction of Echinococcus Multilocularis into the UK. This is a tapeworm that can cause serious illness in people).
  5. Travel arrangements must be with an approved transport Company, on an authorised route.

Where travel to the UK is from a non-EU or an unlisted country, pets must also be blood tested for immunity to Rabies 30 days after vaccination, and then wait 3 months from the date of the blood test before travelling.

Owners should check up-to-date advice and which countries are non-listed on the Defra website:

The Pet Travel Scheme is designed purely to keep Rabies and Echinococcus out of the UK. It is vital for owners to consider and take action to prevent their pets being infected by other exotic diseases while travelling abroad.

Tick prevention

Ticks carry a range of diseases which can affect animals and humans. Some occur in the UK ( Lyme disease, Bartonellosis), but others are carried by ticks more common in other parts of the world inc. Central and Southern Europe. Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis and Hepatozoonosis are all serious and difficult to treat diseases transmitted by ticks found in warmer climates.

Be prepared before travelling - give your pet tick treatment and have enough to continue for the period you are away. Spot-ons available from your vet usually provide 1 months protection, or there is an oral treatment that lasts 3 months, and collars which can last 5 months.


Heartworm larvae are transmitted by mosquitoes, and have a world-wide distribution including Southern Europe and USA. The larvae cause lung damage and developing worms cause arterial blockage, resulting in heart failure . It is relatively easy to prevent disease but very difficult to treat. Licensed products for heart worm prevention (oral and spot-on preparations are available) should be given at least 1 month before travel, then every 4 weeks, and continue for at least 1 month after returning to the UK.


Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by a protozoan parasite transmitted by sandflies. It is common in the Mediterranean coastal areas such as Portugal and Spain, central and Southern America and the Tropics. The organism causes chronic, debilitating disease, organ damage and is a zoonosis (can be transmitted from animals to humans). For these reasons, animals confirmed with Leishmania are often put to sleep. Prevention centres around repelling sandflies -spot-ons and collars are available, and pets should be kept indoors at night, preferably with a fan to keep air moving. A vaccine, CaniLeish, is now available. Although expensive, it should be considered where regular or permanent travel to affected areas is expected.

Consider the risks of your specific travel arrangements, consult your Veterinary Surgeon if unsure about preventative treatment.

Always consider whether leaving your pet at home would be the best option for them, especially if travelling in very hot weather or where a pet has existing respiratory or cardiac disease.