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Dog DrivingThe Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) – Legal Requirements

Guidance notes for owners
In 2000, the UK government complied with European legislation which liberalised the movement of animals within the EU. This involved the introduction of Pet Passports, and allowed dogs, cats and ferrets to travel to other countries in Europe and return to the UK without having to go through quarantine. To do this, they had to be vaccinated against rabies, a blood test had to confirm immunity to rabies, and then they had to wait 6 months before they could travel. Before returning to the UK, they had to be treated by a vet for tapeworms and ticks.

Over time, the rules were modified – the number of entry ports was increased and the list of countries which dogs could visit or be imported from was added to, extending the Scheme worldwide. DEFRA keeps a list of countries approved for travel under these arrangements –click here for list. Pets can also be imported from non-approved countries, but there are extra procedures to follow.

On 1st Jan 2012, a major reform meant that the requirements are now much less rigorous. For entry to the UK from EU and approved other countries, the following are stipulated:

1. Every animal must be implanted with a microchip. The number will be recorded on the Passport, and should be checked whenever the animal is examined in relation to the passport.

2. Rabies vaccination must be given AFTER the microchip has been implanted the requirement for a blood test to prove immunity was dropped

3. The Passport can be issued immediately, and pets are able to travel 21 days after the date of the rabies vaccination. The 6-month wait has been abandoned.

4. When returning to the UK, pets must be treated for tapeworm between 24 and 120 hours before entering. This treatment must be administered by a vet who must complete the relevant entry in the Passport. The need to treat for ticks has been removed.

Full details of all the requirements are available on the DEFRA website - DEFRA. If you want to phone about the Scheme, there is a dedicated DEFRA phone number - 08459 33 55 77

Other aspects of travelling abroad
The Pet Travel Scheme is concerned with ensuring that the UK remains free of rabies and the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis , Because these have serious human health implications Strangely, it is not concerned with keeping pets healthy or safe. It is important to remember that there are many other health hazards your pet may encounter when abroad, and you should take precautions to prevent problems.

Exactly which diseases may be encountered depends on where you are travelling. If you are planning a trip, please make an appointment for our Travel Clinic, and we will be able to give specific advice on the diseases prevalent there and the preventative measures you should take. The appointment should be at least two weeks, preferably a month, before you travel, because special treatments may need to be ordered.

The Government has introduced a Pet Travel Scheme which allows pet dogs and cats from certain countries to be imported into the UK without having to pass through quarantine. Quarantine has not being abolished altogether, and the requirements for entry are stringent. The scheme also allows UK pet dogs and cats to travel to those specified countries and return to the UK without quarantine.

The main risks posed and measures which can be taken are summarised here:

  • Disease
  • Spread By
  • Information
  • Prevention
  • Leishmaniosis
  • Sandflies

Leishmaniosis is an infectious and potentially fatal disease caused by a protozoan parasite common in Mediterranean coastal areas and transmitted by phlebotomine sand flies. Despite the name, which relates to their brownish colour, the flies are found in woodlands and crevices in old buildings. The sand flies are active from May to October and feed mainly at dusk and dawn.

Avoid sandflies
Use insect repellents containing synthetic pyrethroids (do not use in cats) - for example, Advantix spot-on or Seresto collar

Vaccination is available; 3 doses needed at 3-week intervals; immunity 4 weeks after final dose; not 100% effective, but may be worthwhile

Heartworm and Mosquitos

Heartworm disease is caused by the nematode worm Dirofilaria immitis. The disease is endemic in Mediterranean areas. Dogs are the primary host, however cats can be susceptible. Infection is spread by blood sucking mosquitoes during feeding. Many mosquitoes are capable of transmitting the parasite including species present in the UK.

Use insect repellents containing synthetic pyrethroids (do not use in cats) - for example, Advantix spot-on or Seresto collar

Preventative treatments containing Milbemycin (Program Plus or Milbemax tablets) or Selamectin (Stronghold spot-on) should be given throughout the mosquito season starting one month before exposure

  • Babeseosis
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Ticks

Babeseosis and Ehrlichiosis are protozoan blood parasites transmitted by ticks. They are endemic in much of Europe and cause a variety of serious illnesses

Use topical treatments which repel ticks as well as killing them - for example, Advantix spot-on or Seresto collar

Remove any ticks you find attached to the pet as soon as possible

  • Echinococcus multilocularis
  • Tapeworm
  • Rodents (if eaten)

Echinococcus multilocularis is the fox tapeworm. Dogs become infected by eating voles and other small rodents. Eggs passed by an infected dog or fox are immediately infective to people. A dog's coat contaminated with fox faeces has high risk of containing infective eggs.

Use praziquantel-based de-wormer every month - eg Milbemax

Wash fox faeces from dogs' coats thoroughly