Travelling With Your Pet-What You Need To Know

Important news for owners of pets travelling abroad
The bad news:

Since the Pets Travel Scheme (PETS) was introduced in 2000, there have been an increasing number of pets returning to the UK with ‘exotic’ diseases. There is concern that some of these diseases are becoming endemic to the UK with potentially serious consequences for both human and animal health.
The following lists some of these diseases and how pets may pick up infection:

Leishmaniosis Sandflies
Heartworm Mosquitoes
Babesiosis Ticks
Ehrlichiosis Ticks
Echinococcus multilocularis tapeworm Small rodents (if eaten)
Rabies Bite/saliva from another infected animal

From the 1st January 2012 the compulsory requirement to treat for ticks before entering the UK was lifted. The aim of the PETS legislation has always been to protect human health rather than animal health and following these guidelines alone will NOT guarantee the health of your pets travelling abroad.

The distribution of many of the above ‘exotic’ diseases is changing rapidly. This may be due to better surveillance and diagnosis, which allows us to map parasite and disease distribution better, but it may also be due to changing climates allowing vectors, e.g. mosquitoes, to increase their geographical range. Increased animal travel generally allows greater spread of disease, just as human travel can increase the spread of disease.

The good news:

More information is now available to UK vets to help us assess the risk of disease to pets travelling abroad and we are now  able to advise pet owners on disease prevention protocols. There are a number of products available that can help reduce the risk of pet exposure to insects and ticks that spread disease, and for the control of tapeworms which can present potentially serious problems for human health should infected dogs enter the UK. However there is no single treatment that covers all the parasites. An assessment of the risks facing each pet is needed, which will depend on which countries your pet will be going to and the time of year the travel will be taking place.

There is now a vaccine available which offers dog owners the opportunity for a new level of protection against canine leishmaniosis. A course of vaccines are required along with an annual booster. If you are interested in learning more about the vaccine please speak to your veterinary nurse at your local branch.

If you would like to receive further advice about appropriate disease prevention measures for your pets whilst travelling abroad, please contact your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets and ask for a Travel Clinic appointment with your veterinary nurse. Please bring to the clinic all the PETS travel documentation that you currently have and your planned itinerary.
Don’t forget cats need to be protected against parasites aswell!

Ideally, the travel clinic appointment should be made at least two weeks, preferably one month, before your intended departure abroad as some of the disease prevention products need to be given well before potential exposure to parasites. Exotic disease prevention and treatment is a fast moving field of veterinary medicine. To ensure your pet is well protected against disease, we recommend contacting us before each trip abroad to check whether the advice regarding disease prevention protocols has changed and to confirm that your pet’s microchip is still active.

Useful links:
Pet Passports
Pet Travel Scheme-Tick Treatment Rules
ESCCAP Leaflet-Travelling Pets?


Why microchip?

This is an extremely important way of identifying your pet should they ever go missing.  We regularly have pets brought in to the surgery who have either strayed or been injured in a road traffic accident with no way of being able to find out who their owner might be.  If these pets had been microchipped we would have been able to reunite them with their owner immediately.

Every year more than 300,000 pets are reported missing.  They may go missing for a variety of reasons especially if they are particularly inquisitive!  During the firework season, if pets are not kept inside they often become scared and disorientated due to the noise and easily become lost.  Other pets may run off during thunderstorms or if they have recently moved areas they may wander too far from their new home.  Some pets may even be stolen. Unfortunately in recent years there has been an increase in the number of pets especially dogs which are stolen, usually to breed from or to sell on in an attempt to make money.  Because the microchip is a permanent form of identification it enables your pet to be returned to their rightful owner much more easily even after a long period of time.

It is a legal requirement to have your dog microchipped by 8 weeks of age and keep their contact details up to date with the database.

Implanting a microchip is quick, simple and very cost effective.  It will give you the peace of mind that if your pet does become lost they have a form of identification which means you will be reunited much faster and may avoid the possibility of your pet being kept in a shelter or even rehomed.

How does it work?
A microchip is a small electronic device which is the size of a grain of rice.  The chip is inserted in the loose skin of your pet’s neck generally in between their shoulder blades.  Depending on the species of your pet the area may be different.  For example tortoises are microchipped in their hindlimb.

The chip contains a unique number which is read using a scanner.  This number is registered to the national database.  Once the chip has been inserted we will log all of your details via a registration form.  This means that the number will be linked to your home address and contact numbers were your pet ever to go missing.

It is extremely important that you keep your contact details up to date with the database.  If you move house or change your telephone number you must let them know in case they ever need to contact you if your pet goes missing.

Should your pet ever go missing and is found away from home all veterinary practices, animal charities and local authorities will have a scanner and be able to check your pet for a microchip.  Once the number has been read, the database would be contacted to retrieve your details and you would then receive a call informing you of the whereabouts of your pet.  Without this form of identification your pet may never be reunited with you.

Another benefit of having a microchip is that there are now cat flaps which read your pet’s own unique number only allowing your pet to enter and leave the house.  This is especially useful in preventing unwanted visitors!

If you would like any more information on the benefits of microchipping or to book an appointment please contact your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets.

Useful links: