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:
|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.