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Tips for traveling abroad with your pets

Find out how to keep your pet safe when traveling.

It’s not for everyone, but sometimes it’s necessary to take your pets abroad, particularly if you and your family are relocating. Luckily, there are schemes in place to make this possible.

The PETS Travel Scheme

This allows you to bring cats and dogs into the UK from certain countries without the need for 6 months of quarantine. You can travel to any country listed within the scheme, but a few rules apply:
  1. Your pet needs to be microchipped  - this can be done at any vets. It will be compulsory for all dogs – whether they’re travelling abroad or not – from April 2016.
  2. Your pet needs to be vaccinated against rabies – you won’t be able to bring them back to the UK until 21 days after their rabies vaccination is administered.
  3. You’ll need to hold a valid PETS passport, to show proof that your pet has been microchipped and vaccinated against rabies.
  4. Dogs must be treated against tapeworm between 120 hours and 24 hours before travelling back to the UK.


Are there any risks to taking pets abroad?

The PETS legislation is designed primarily to protect human health – since the introduction of the Pets Travel Scheme in 2000, more and more pets have been returning to the UK with ‘exotic’ diseases. If you’ve travelled abroad with your pet, these are the diseases to watch out for:
  • Leishmaniasis – spread by sandflies, this is prevalent in most Mediterranean countries. Watch out for skin lesions on your pet - if left untreated, it can damage the immune system.
  • Heartworm – spread by mosquitoes, these worms live in your dog’s heart, lungs, and arteries.
  • Babesiosis – spread by ticks, this can destroy red blood cells and cause severe anaemia.
  • Ehrlichiosis – also spread by ticks, this disease can affect dogs in different ways. Symptoms can include anaemia, lethargy, joint pain, weight loss and bruises on the skin, as well as bleeding, neurological symptoms, and a fever.

If you’re worried about your pet’s health after a trip abroad, take them to your vet.

Keeping your pets safe abroad

There are a few simple things you can do to help reduce the risk of your pet contracting an exotic disease while abroad:
  • Get them vaccinated against Leishmania – this is the best way to prevent the disease. Using Advantix spot on or a Scalibor collar will also help repel the sandflies that spread the disease.
  • Use Advocate spot on to prevent heartworm. Alternatively, you can give your pet a Milbemax tablet one month before you travel, and then every month you’re abroad.
  • You can reduce the risk of your pet contracting both Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis by giving them treatments that kill ticks.

Preparation is key

You’ll need to start planning at least 6 months before you travel. Find out what diseases are prevalent in the area you’re travelling to and order the necessary preventative medicine. You can also ask your vet about issuing a PETS passport.

Visit the official government site to find more detail about the countries that are included in the scheme, and what to do if you’re travelling outside these areas.