Increasingly people are deciding to travel with their pets rather than putting them into kennels or catteries while they go abroad. The pet passport scheme has made travelling with pets much easier. However, there are various requirements for this scheme and there are many considerations, not least the potential disease implications of international travel.
Below are the details for the PETS scheme: for a version to download see the link at the bottom of the page.
See below for links to the DEFRA PETS scheme website.
The original rules for PETS (the pet travel scheme) were revised in 2004, and the original paperwork has been superseded by the European pet passport, which came into effect on 03/07/04. The passport covers dogs, cats and ferrets. There have been recent changes in the pet passport scheme which will came into effect on 1st January, 2012.
Which countries are included in the scheme?
Resident pets in the UK can travel to EU and non EU countries, including long haul destinations, and return into the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme, without going into quarantine, provided all the regulations are adhered to.
An updated list of the countries involved in the scheme can be obtained from the DEFRA website (www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/quarantine), or by calling the PETS helpline (0870 241 1710).
Routes and Travel
An approved route and travel company must be used: these are regularly updated, so you must check them before booking your return trip to the UK. Some companies have their own additional conditions of travel. Please note you may not bring a pet into the UK under the PETS scheme from a private boat or plane.
Requirements of the PETS scheme
On 1st January 2012, the rules for the Pet Passport Scheme and animals entering the UK changed. Under the old rules, animals had to:
1. Be microchipped.
2. Have a rabies vaccination.
3. Have a rabies blood test a minimum of 21 days after the vaccination to check that the rabies antibody has reached a protective level (>0.5IU/ml).
4. Wait for 6 months from the date of a successful anitbody titre test before re-entering the UK.
5. Have a tick and tapeworm treatment 24 - 48 hours before re-entering the UK.
As of 1st January 2012, the new rules are:
1. Animals must be microchipped.
2. They must have a rabies vaccination.
3. Three weeks after the rabies vaccination animals can re-enter the UK (animals originating from abroad must be blood tested and wait 3 months from the rabies blood test before entering the UK)
4. Animals have to have the tapeworm (Echinococcus) treatment 24 - 48 hours before re-entering the UK.
Some Useful Pointers
These new rules have been enforced upon the UK by the EU and may well have dire consequences.
Firstly, the lack of tick treatment upon entering the UK will mean that we are likely to get more ticks entering the UK from abroad, and with these ticks are likely to come tick-borne diseases – something which we have been almost free of in the UK. We therefore think that it is imperative that you treat your pets against ticks before, during and after a visit abroad, and continue to treat against ticks all year round. Advice on suitable treatments for when your pet is abroad can be found in our Pet Passport leaflet.
Secondly, without testing your pet’s blood for the rabies antibody, we cannot tell if he or she actually has adequate levels of immunity should he or she come into contact with rabies. While the risk of rabies in much of Western Europe is relatively low, there are a substantial number of countries in the EU and on the EU list where there is still a problem with rabies in a wildlife reservoir (e.g., Italy, Poland, Baltic States, Russia, USA and many others). Up to date information on countries that are high risk for rabies can be obtained from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) website. In such areas, and indeed even in other areas when canine rabies sporadically occurs (eg., France 2011), there remains a genuine risk of exposure to rabies. Rabies has been documented in vaccinated dogs and therefore if you are taking a dog or cat to an area where rabies exposure is possible, a 5% risk that he or she has failed to respond to rabies vaccination puts both your pet and your family at risk. Therefore multiple doses of rabies vaccine, rabies serology, and if necessary rabies boosting shortly before travel to such high risk areas is highly advisable.
- Leishmaniosis: an intracellular protozoan parasite, transmitted by sandflies (Phlebotomus and Lutzomyia). Infected dogs can act as a reservoir for infection for other dogs. Infection causes weight loss, enlarged lymph nodes, and can lead to symptoms that mimic autoimmune disease, affecting most body systems, notably the skin. Prevention is achieved by decreasing exposure to sandflies (fly repellent such as Scalibor collar, avoid being outside between dusk and dawn). Note: this disease can also affect humans.
- Babesiosis: an intracellular protozoan parasite, transmitted by ticks. Infection causes high fever, weakness, anorexia, haemolytic anaemia and eventually jaundice and death. Prevention involves aggressive tick control. Frontline or Prac-tic should be applied 10-14 days before travel, daily ‘tick watch’ should be performed: do not touch the ticks, use a tick hook and destroy the tick by burning. Consider treating your car with Indorex.
- Ehrlichiosis: a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks: the bacterium infects white blood cells and platelets and can lead to severe bleeding disorders. Prevention as for Babesiosis.
- Heartworm: Prevent by treating with Drontal or Milbemax before and during travel.
Useful Information Sources
Remember: ALWAYS check with the authorities in your country of destination to make sure they have no additional requirements. Also protect your pet against diseases present in your country of destination.