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Travelling With Your Pet Abroad

Many animal owners are now taking advantage of the pet travel scheme to take their pet abroad and come back to the UK without having to put their pet into quarantine upon their return.

Countries in the European Union as well as some non-EU countries qualify for the PETS travel scheme. Since this scheme came into force many pet owners have been able to take their pets abroad on holiday with them rather than leave them in kennels or at home. If you wish to take your pet abroad and then return to the UK you should find out if the country you intend to visit qualifies for this scheme.

The steps which you and your vet will have to take in order for your animal to travel abroad and return to the UK under the PETS scheme are as follows:

1. Get your pet fitted with a microchip so that it may be accurately identified.

2. Have your pet vaccinated against rabies.

3. Have your pet blood tested to ensure that it has reacted to the rabies vaccine.

4. Obtain a pet passport.

5. Get your pet treated for parasites. (Ticks and tapeworms)

The microchip must be fitted before the rabies vaccination is carried out. This is so that the animal can be accurately identified. The microchip should be read before the vet gives the rabies vaccination.

The rabies vaccination should be given to animals over 12 weeks old and an approved product should be used. A record of this vaccination will be made by the vet. Booster vaccinations against rabies must be given at appropriate intervals for your animal to remain eligible for the travel scheme. If the booster is missed it will have to be vaccinated and blood tested all over again.

The blood test is carried out to ensure that your pet has reacted to the vaccine appropriately. It is carried out some time after the rabies vaccination has been given (usually after about a month, but speak to your own vet). If the blood test shows an appropriate immune response the passport may be issued. If your pet fails the blood test it means that its immune system did not respond strongly enough to the vaccine. In this case it is possible to give your pet a booster vaccine and try again. Your pet may only re-enter the UK 6 months after a successful blood test result. However it may travel abroad before this; it just cannot return.

EU pet passports have now replaced the old system of certificates for pets traveling abroad. The passport can be issued to your pet after it has been microchipped and vaccinated against rabies, but it will not allow entry or re-entry to the UK unless the requirements for a satisfactory blood test have been met and six months have elapsed since that satisfactory result. Not all vets can issue pet passports so ensure that the vet you will be seeing at this appointment is an LVI who is able to do it for you.

Before your pet can come into the UK it must be treated for parasites. It must be treated for tapeworms with a product containing praziquantel (such as Droncit, Drontal Plus or Drontal Cat) to prevent it bringing the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis back into the UK with it. This tapeworm is transmissible to humans and can cause serious disease. The treatment for tapeworms must be carried out between 24 and 48 hours before checking in with the transport company to come back to the UK. Treatment must be given every time the pet comes back into the country from abroad. At the same time a suitable treatment for ticks must be given (Frontline). These treatments must be administered by a veterinary surgeon and recorded in your animal's documentation.

You will only be able to take your pet abroad using certain approved travel companies and routes. You should check that the companies you intend to use are able and willing to take your animal on the journey.

If you plan to take your pet abroad it is wise to discuss your journey with your vet. Entry requirements for animals into different countries may vary and it is best to ensure all requirements will be met before you begin your journey. It can be quite expensive to fulfill all these requirements and you should also consider other factors such as climate and health risks other than rabies for your pet when making the decision to take your pet abroad.
You should consult your veterinary surgeon who will be able to give you more specific information related to taking your pet abroad. Further information is also available from the Defra web site.

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