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Pet Travel to Europe from 2021

Pet travel to and from the European Union and Approved Countries

The government has confirmed the post-Brexit rules for travelling to the European Union (EU) and Northern Ireland (NI) with pet cats, ferrets, or dogs, including assistance dogs. Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales), including the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, have become a Part 2 listed third country under the EU Pet Travel Scheme, effective from 1 January 2021.

This means that an EU Passport that was issued in Great Britain is no longer valid for travel to the EU or Northern Ireland and an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) is instead required.

Preparing to travel to the European Union (EU) or Northern Ireland (NI) with your pet

It is essential to prepare well ahead of your journey. Before your dog, cat or ferret can travel from Great Britain (GB) to the EU or Northern Ireland you’ll need to take the following steps.

  1. You must have your dog, cat, or ferret microchipped.
  2. Have your dog, cat, or ferret vaccinated against Rabies. Your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before it can be vaccinated.
  3. Wait at least 21 days after the primary vaccination before seeing an Official Veterinarian (OV) for completing the AHC and no more than 10 days before travel to the EU.
  4. You must either travel with your pet or within 5 days of your pet travelling.

What is an Animal Health Certificate (AHC)?

The Animal Health Certificate is a 12-page document that must be completed and certified by an Official Veterinarian (OV) who has completed additional animal export training, and who has been approved by the UK Government for this purpose. The certificate takes considerable time to complete and accuracy is important. You will need to provide supporting evidence for completion of the document:

  • A record of the date of microchipping
  • Rabies vaccination records
  • Evidence of your journey, showing that you are either travelling with your pet, or within 5 days of your pet.
  • Sign a declaration at the certification appointment that the movement of the pets is for non-commercial reasons.

We have a number of OVs available across our practices that can help you with your pet travel needs so please check that one is available when you need to travel by booking well in advance of your travel date. To assist with this process, and to ensure you are fully informed about the documentation you will be required to provide, please complete our AHC Client Information Form that will be emailed to you when you book an appointment for an AHC. The completed form should be returned to the practice well in advance of, and at least 24-hours before, your appointment.

The AHC will be valid for:

  • 10 days after the date of issue for entry into the EU or NI
  • onward travel within the EU or NI for 4 months after the date of issue
  • re-entry to GB for 4 months after the date of issue
  • only one trip

If you are travelling with more than 5 pets:

All pets must be over 6 months of age, and must be attending or training for a competition, show or sporting event.

  • Written documentation of the age of the pets, and records of attendance at these events must be provided.

Dogs travelling to Finland, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta:

  • Dogs must receive treatment against tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis) between 1 to 5 days before arriving in any of these countries.
  • Tapeworm treatment must be entered by the Official Veterinary (OV) on the AHC following treatment or in an EU-issued Pet Passport. In practice, therefore, AHCs to these countries will normally be issued within 1-5 days before arrival at your destination.

Arriving in the EU or Northern Ireland

Pet owners travelling with pets must travel on approved routes and will need to enter through a designated Travellers’ Point of Entry (TPE). You may be required to present the pet’s original AHC along with evidence of your pet’s:

  • microchip
  • rabies vaccination history
  • tapeworm treatment (if required).

Repeat trips to the EU or NI

A new AHC will be required for each trip and a rabies vaccination will need to be up-to-date or, if not, revaccination will be required followed by a 21-day wait before travel.

All Cat, Dogs, and Ferrets travelling to Northern Ireland

An Animal Health Certificate will be required if travelling from Great Britain and dogs will require tapeworm treatment 1-5 days before entry, and this must be certified by a Vet.

NI-based pets and assistance dogs returning to NI from GB can use a NI-issued EU Pet Passport to re-enter NI and will not need an AHC.

NI-based pets and assistance dogs returning to NI from GB can use a NI-issued EU Pet Passport to re-enter NI and will not need an AHC.

Returning to Great Britain

There will be no change to the current health preparations for pets entering Great Britain from 1 January 2021. Pet owners must have one of the following documents when returning to Great Britain from the EU:

  • an EU pet passport (issued in the EU or GB before 1 January 2021), or a pet passport from a Part 1 listed third country
  • the AHC issued in GB used to travel to the EU – which you can use up to 4 months after it was issued
  • a UK pet health certificate (for travel into GB only).

This documentation is not required if entering Great Britain from:

  • Northern Ireland
  • the Channel Islands
  • the Isle of Man
  • the Republic of Ireland.

Check the routes before you travel. Owners must travel using approved routes and their pet’s documents and microchip will be checked when entering Great Britain.

Owners of assistance dogs returning from the EU do not have to travel on approved routes. You must notify the point of entry in advance that you are travelling with an assistance dog to ensure the appropriate checks are done. Owners do not have to travel on an approved route if they travel to Great Britain from:

  • other UK countries
  • the Channel Islands
  • the Isle of Man
  • the Republic of Ireland

Travel home from countries not free from tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis)

You will need to take your dog to a vet for approved tapeworm treatment and must do this no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before entering Great Britain. This requirement has not changed since 1 January 2021. The treatment must:

  • be approved for use in the country where the treatment is applied
  • contain praziquantel or an equivalent proven to be effective against tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis)

Tapeworm treatment of dogs is not required prior to re-entry to Great Britain if travelling directly to the UK from Finland, Republic of Ireland, NI, Norway or Malta.

Health and welfare of your pet abroad

You should consider that if you take your pet abroad it may be exposed to a number of diseases that we do not have in this country e.g., some diseases transmitted by ticks or biting flies, and parasites such as heartworm and tapeworm. The tapeworm treatment given under the pet travel rules is purely to prevent the introduction of those parasites into the UK. However, it is vitally important that your pet is protected against these other diseases while abroad. In addition to routine vaccination and normal flea and worm control, the following need to be considered and preventive treatment given. You may find further information regarding the risks and recommended preventive measure measures for the region you are travelling in by checking the European Travelling Pets Advice website.

Leishmaniasis

Caused by an organism that is spread between animals by sandflies. Affected animals may lose weight, develop skin lesions and swollen lymph nodes, become lame, and have recurring fevers. A vaccine is available against Leishmaniasis. This should be planned well in advance of travel. Sandfly repellants are also available from your veterinary practice.

Babesiosis

A parasitic disease of red blood cells is spread by ticks. Signs of disease may include fever, loss of appetite, the
passage of red/brown urine, anaemia, weakness, and death.

Ehrlichiosis

A disease that is also transmitted by ticks and infects red blood cells. Clinical signs vary but include fever, loss of appetite, and anaemia.

Dirofilariasis (Heartworm Disease)

Is transmitted by mosquitoes with the development of adult worms which live in the heart and blood vessels. The signs
of the disease include coughing, breathlessness and can lead to death.

Tapeworms

Echinococcus can produce serious disease in humans and so it is important to protect your pet and thereby, yourself and your family. As well as the tapeworm treatment administered by a Veterinary Surgeon before returning to the UK, we recommend using tapeworm treatment every month your pet is in the EU, 1-5 days before returning (which must be given and certified by a Veterinary Surgeon), and then again, 1 month after returning. 

We have seen several cases of some of these diseases, especially Babesiosis and Leishmaniasis in pets that have become infected while abroad. We would therefore recommend that your pet receives regular preventive treatment to protect against the following whilst travelling abroad in:

  • Ticks (protect against Babesia and Ehrlichia infection)
  • Heartworm
  • Tapeworm
  • Sandflies and mosquitoes (protect against Leishmania and Heartworm infection).

Your local Goddard vet will be able to advise you on the best protective treatments to use depending on the area that you intend to travel to. We wish you a safe and enjoyable journey with your pet.

Ready for some summer socialising? Here are some of Nacho’s top Dog-Friendly Pubs in London!

Pet Corner: Written by Goddard Veterinary Group’s Guest Social Editor, Nacho from The Four Legged Foodies

We are very lucky to have so many dog friendly pubs in London where we can enjoy drinking and dining with our humans but on a nice sunny day there is nothing better than spending an hour or two in a pub garden. Here are a few favourite London pub gardens you will often find me hanging out with Archie.


The Ram in Kingston

Starting with the one closest to home, The Ram in Kingston is a fabulous town centre pub with a large riverside garden. While the humans enjoy their lunch and cocktails, we doggies get our own water and some tasty biscuits from the very friendly staff. A place that serves us before the humans always gets a paws up!

Kingston riverside is a great place for people and dog watching and if you go on a summer evening you get to watch the sun set over the Thames. Just watch those humans don’t have too many cocktails!!

The Ram 34 High St, Kingston upon Thames KT1 1HL

The Marlborough

After a walk in Richmond Park, we like to head down Richmond Hill to The Marlborough. From the front you may think this is a small pub but once inside you will discover a spacious bar with an even bigger garden. In fact, the garden is HUGE!

The garden is part paved, part astroturf with some covered areas and heaters but the best part is the doggie station where we can help ourselves to a bowl, water and treats. It’s like an all you can eat buffet for dogs!

The Marlborough 46 Friars Stile Rd, Richmond TW10 6NQ

The Old Bull and Bush

The Old Bull and Bush is right next to Hampstead Heath where you can work up a hunger before heading to the pub for lunch. This pub has been around since 1721 and even has a song about it!

The garden is all paved with most tables covered and apart from the excellent food for the humans, what we love most about this pub is its history. It has been around since 1721 and in the 1800’s became a popular day trip destination for Cockneys, one of whom wrote a song about it.

Just imagine how many doggies have had a great time “Down at The Old Bull and Bush…”

 The Old Bull and Bush N End Way, London NW3 7HE

The Windmill in Clapham

The Windmill in Clapham has its own resident Four Legged Foodie, a Bernese Mountain Dog called Max who is thankfully more than happy to share his pub with us!

The garden here has lots to explore with an outdoor bar, a burger shack and a fully decked out garden shed. There’s even full-size statue of a cow! Afterwards you can take your humans for a stroll on Clapham Common but don’t forget to get your photo taken with Max before you leave!

The Windmill 7 Clapham Common South Side, London SW4 7AA

No.197 Chiswick Fire Station

Put on your best bow tie for this one as it’s a posh pub! No.197 Chiswick Fire Station is what the humans call a bar and it’s one of a group of 8 across London, all of which are super dog friendly.

The garden here is a very pretty courtyard with lots of plants and flowers and just as stylish as the interior. This is one of our human’s favourite places for brunch. I just have to be kept away from the plants as I like to try and eat them!

No 197 Chiswick Fire Station 197-199 Chiswick High Rd, Chiswick, London W4 2DR

Richard The First

Greenwich Park is a stunning London park with some of the best views of the city you will find. After a few hours of being told to pose for photos, you will deserve a treat so you will be glad to know Richard The First pub is just across the road.

There are a few tables at the front of the pub and also a colourful patio garden at the rear where most tables are covered – this is apparently important for the humans who don’t like the rain!

Richard the First 52/54 Royal Hill, London SE10 8RT


Remember friends, always carry fresh water for your doggy companion when out and about and find some shade if the sun is shining!

I hope you enjoy your trips out, don’t forget to share your experiences with us on Instagram!GVG Guest Social Editor

Nacho x

@the4leggedfoodies
@goddardvets

I’ve found a stray cat, what should I do?

RSPCA figures show Greater London takes the top spot for most cats rescued, with 2,350 cats coming into RSPCA care last year. Whilst it is commendable to try and help our feline friends, first we need to decide if the cat is indeed a stray in need of help.


How can I tell if it is feral?

Feral cats are usually the offspring of stray, feral or abandoned cats that have missed out on early socialisation with humans, making them very wary of us. If they are adults already, they will not make good pets. If the cat is not friendly and approachable, it may be feral. These cats often (but not always) live in colonies rather than alone. They won’t come close, even with encouragement, and will avoid human contact. They may have a part of the ear tip missing indicating they have been trapped, neutered and released by a charity in order to keep feral populations down.

So long as a feral cat is healthy, they will live happily outside. They should be largely left alone. However if they appear injured or ill, then contact the RSPCA. Various national charities have neutering schemes so if you see a colony of cats without ear tipping, contact your local RSPCA or a local charity such as the Celia Hammond Trust for more advice.


I don’t think it’s feral – what do I do now?

If the cat is alone, approachable and friendly, it may be a cat that belongs to someone, that has strayed. Some owned cats will stray further from home than others, so we must take care not to mistake an owned cat out on their constitutional, for a lost cat. Cats may be greedy and take advantage of a well-meaning neighbour for an extra meal. They may be on a special diet at home that they’re less than pleased with, so in search of a tastier supper.

However, if you are regularly being visited by the same cat, looking for food and shelter, then action is needed.

Ive-found-a-stray-cat-what-should-I-do-copy

What can I do?

Firstly check the cat for a collar. If there is one it clearly has had an owner. If the collar has a contact number on it, then get in touch and explain your situation. There may be an owner frantically searching for their missing feline friend.

If there is no collar or contact details, then you could pop the cat in a basket and take it along to your nearest vet to be scanned for a microchip.

A microchip is a permanent method of electronic identification implanted subcutaneously under the skin between the shoulder blades. Each chip has a unique number, detected using a microchip scanner. The microchip number is recorded on a microchip database with details about the animal and owner. In the majority of cases, the microchip is registered to an owner and, hey presto — a reunion ensues.

If taking this cat into your nearest vet is not possible, there is no chip found on scanning, or the chip is not registered to an owner then next you could try:

  • Speaking to neighbours. News spreads fast. Word of mouth is often the best way of reuniting pets with owners.
  • Using a photo of the culprit and make a ‘found’ poster, putting them up in the local area.
  • Posting the kitty on on local social media sites and lost and found sites. This immediately magnifies your search.
  • Listing the cat on national websites such as Pets Located and the National Pet Register and look through the lost cat sections. You can list a found cat on the Battersea website here.
  • Contacting us and other local vet practices. Often owners missing their pets will think the worst and contact local vet practices first. Practices often keep a list of missing cats should one matching the description turn up.
  • Creating a homemade paper collar that you can attach around the cats neck (if you can get close enough). Ensure the fitted collar allows for two fingers to be placed between the collar and cat’s neck, to make sure the cat isn’t harmed. Write your contact telephone number on the collar strip and something along the lines of: Your cat has been visiting me and I am concerned it is a stray. Please contact me if it belongs to you.

None of this has worked, so what can I do now?

If there is still no sign of an owner then you could consider keeping the cat yourself. This is a big commitment of a potential 15 years or more, though, so must be thought about very seriously. If you are new to cat ownership, get in touch with us and we can run through the basics of cat care and what to expect so you can decide if it’s for you.

If you are not able to keep the cat then, unlike dogs, local authorities do not take in stray cats. Try contacting one of the charities below:

If you do not have any luck we may be able to provide more local charity details.


Is the cat injured or ill?

If you’re worried about the health of the cat, call the RSPCA on its emergency number 0300 1234 999 (UK). A lost cat might be nervous, especially if sick and injured, so approach them with caution. The safest way to move the cat is to carefully cover it in a blanket before picking it up. This keeps the cat safe as well as shielding you from claws and teeth.

If the cat is seriously injured, take it to your nearest veterinary practice immediately.

Does my bunny need a buddy?

Yes – every bunny needs someBunny!

Rabbits are extremely social animals, they need company. In the wild, rabbits live in groups in warrens where they all look out for each other – they huddle together to keep warm and they warn each other if predators are about. Pet rabbits love to play, relax, sleep, eat and groom together.

Rabbits do enjoy human company when we can give this to them, but remember, with all the will in the world – our lives are busy, and even if we can spend a few hours a day with our rabbits that still leaves a huge 20+ hours when they are alone. What’s more, rabbits are often most active at dawn and dusk – just when we are hitting the snooze button on the alarm, or getting the dinner ready!

What is the best pairing?

The best pairing is usually a male and a female. It is important to have them both neutered (castrated for the males and spayed for the females). This can be done as soon as they are old enough – speak to your vet about when is the best time for your rabbits. Avoid just neutering one rabbit, as this may result in one calm bunny and one frustrated over-amorous one! Not only does neutering prevent unwanted pregnancies and prevents uterine cancer in females, it can also reduce fighting and is necessary when trying to bond your rabbits.

If you are looking for a companion for your bunny, consider rehoming a rabbit from a rescue centre. Often they have already been vaccinated and neutered, and you will be giving a home to a bunny in need. Some rescue centres will even help with introducing your rabbit to its new friend and will allow you to bring your rabbit along to meet a potential partner in a neutral territory. Some offer boarding to supervise the bonding process for you.

What is the best way to introduce a new bunny?

Bunnies are very sociable but they can also be quite territorial. Introducing two bunnies to each other requires supervision, perseverance and time.

First of all, put your rabbits in nearby enclosures – where they can see and smell each other but are separated by a wire fence.

Once they are used to the sight and smell of each other, place the rabbits together for a short period of time in a neutral space – somewhere new for both rabbits, to reduce the risk of any territorial squabbling. Ensure plenty of food, hay and distractions are available – enough for both rabbits, in separate piles. Provide cardboard boxes and tunnels for them to hide in. Supervise the rabbits while they are together, and if you notice any signs of tension then separate the rabbits and try again later.

Repeat this process until the rabbits are comfortable with each other. When they are grooming or lying with each other they can be left unsupervised. This can take anything from a few hours, to months depending on the rabbits!

Once they are bonded together, keep them together, as periods of time away from each other will cause them stress. If you need to take them to the vets, take both rabbits together so they can give each other company and comfort.

Housing

Ensure your bunnies have plenty of room; the Rabbit Welfare Association recommend a minimum hutch size of at least 6’ x 2’ which allows rabbits some room to move, stand on their hind legs, and enough space for the food, toilet and sleeping areas to be kept apart. They should be able to perform at least 3 consecutive hops or ‘binkies’ (not steps). Larger breeds will need more space than this. Importantly, a hutch should not be their only living space – it should be attached to a secure run of at least 8’ x 4’. Bear in mind, these are the minimum recommendations – as with most things in life, bigger is better!

There is pure joy to witnessing a bonded, loved up bunny duo together; you’ll never want to keep a solitary rabbit again. It’s never too late, even for bunnies in their twilight years.

Rabbit Vaccinations: Are they necessary?

In the UK we currently recommend vaccinating rabbits against two diseases; myxomatosis and rabbit viral haemorrhagic disease (RHD). To understand why vaccinations are so important we need to know what they are protecting our rabbits against.

Myxomatosis

What is it?
Myxomatosis is a disease caused by the myxoma virus and has been present in the UK since 1953. There are different strains of the virus which can result in different forms of the disease some more severe than others (see below). In unprotected rabbits, the disease is usually fatal and so prevention is strongly recommended.

What are the symptoms?
There are two types of myxomatosis, nodular (lumpy) and oedematous (swollen) but the latter is the most common and the most lethal. Symptoms begin between 4-10 days after infection;

Oedematous (swollen) Type Nodular (lumpy) Type
  • Swelling around the eyes, mouth, bottom and/or genitals
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dull behaviour
  • Light sensitivity
  • Secondary infections (eyes, nose, lungs)
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty breathing (end stage) and death
  • Lumps in and/or under the skin
  • Lumps become ulcerated (open wound) but can heal over
  • Secondary infections

It is possible for rabbits to get a mixed form with symptoms from both types of the disease which may be milder. The oedematous form acts quickly and after around 1-2 weeks of symptoms rabbits will die from starvation and difficulty breathing.


How do rabbits get it?

Rabbits can become infected with the virus from direct contact with other infected rabbits but also from being bitten by blood sucking-insects with the virus. These insects become carriers when they feed on infected rabbits but don’t become ill themselves, allowing them to move on and feed on another rabbit passing on the infection. Any blood-sucking insect can be a carrier but fleas and mosquitoes are the most common and because mosquitoes can fly long distances, they also help spread the disease to new areas.

Can you treat it?
Treatment of the oedematous form is usually hopeless, particularly if the rabbit is already having difficulty eating or breathing. Due to this our vets sadly will most likely recommend euthanasia to stop the rabbit from suffering. Rabbits with a mixed form of the disease may be able to survive with supportive care if the disease is mild. Supportive treatment is typically aimed at maintaining adequate nutrition and alleviating other symptoms while the immune system clears the virus. This may include;

  • Fluid therapy
  • Syringe feeding
  • Antibiotics if there is a secondary infection
  • Anti-inflammatories for the swelling
  • Active warming

How can I prevent it?
Rabbits can be vaccinated against myxomatosis from 5 weeks old. This vaccine should be repeated every year to maintain adequate protection. Rabbits in high-density populations such as those used for breeding can be vaccinated every 6 months. Vaccinated rabbits can still become infected with the virus but the symptoms are normally very mild and treatable.

You can reduce the risk of infection further by ensuring your rabbit does not have contact with wild rabbits which may be infected, or eat food from areas where wild rabbits live. Protect your rabbits from insects that may carry the disease by using insect screens and flea prevention spot-ons. If you’re introducing a new rabbit, quarantine it for at least a fortnight to ensure it is not infected before exposing it to your current rabbit/s.

Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD)

What is it?
RHD is a deadly disease caused by a calicivirus which can be transmitted both directly and indirectly. The RHD virus is currently divided into subtypes including RHD1 and RHD2. The virus has been present in Europe since 1988 but a recent outbreak of RHD2 in the UK started in 2013 and has caused a large number of rabbit deaths.

What are the symptoms?
Sadly, one of the most common symptoms of RHD is sudden death, with many owners believing their rabbit died of “fright” or a heart attack. External symptoms are not always seen and so many rabbits dying from RHD are not known, meaning the disease is likely more widespread than we think. The disease acts so quickly (within 1-3 days of infection) that rabbits can look completely normal the day before. Possible symptoms include;

  • Sudden death
  • Bleeding from the nose/mouth/bottom
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever (early)
  • Seizures
  • Vocalising
  • Collapse

A mild form of the disease does exist but this is very uncommon and those rabbits are normally just generally unwell with non-specific symptoms which often mean we do not recognise they have RHD.

How do rabbits get it?
The virus can survive in the environment for many months, especially when it’s cold, allowing it to cause disease outbreaks year after year. RHD can infect rabbits directly through bodily fluids such as faeces/urine/saliva and mating as well as indirectly by contaminated objects such as clothing/cages/bedding/food/humans as well as insects, birds and rodents carrying the disease. There is even suspicion the virus can be carried on the wind. Blood-sucking insects such as mosquitoes and fleas can cause the virus to spread quickly and over considerable distances.

Can you treat it?
RHD is usually fatal and cannot be treated so vaccinating your rabbit is strongly recommended to prevent them from getting it. We may be able to provide some supportive care to infected rabbits but normally our vets will recommend euthanasia to alleviate suffering. Rabbits known, or suspected, of being infected should be isolated from all other rabbits and strict hygiene protocols used to prevent the virus from being transported elsewhere. All equipment and housing should be thoroughly disinfected and cleaned.

How can I prevent it?
Vaccines exist in the UK for both the RHD1 and RHD2 types of the virus. As there is no way of predicting when a rabbit may become infected with RHD, vaccination to protect every rabbit is the best-recommended action. Vaccines can be given from 4-5 weeks old and then a booster every 6-12 months is advised as the reported duration of immunity is 9 months-1 year. In the UK the RHD1 vaccine can be given at the same time as the myxomatosis vaccine, then the RHD2 vaccine is licensed to be given a minimum of two weeks later.

Where possible you can try and limit exposure of your rabbit to RHD by quarantining any new rabbits, using insect screens and flea spot-ons, and avoiding contact with wild birds and rodents. General hygiene is also important; we advise that all objects (e.g. water bottles, bowls, cleaning equipment) are cleaned and disinfected regularly as well as your rabbit’s housing. Bedding should be changed regularly and along with hay, should be sourced from a supplier where it has been grown with no known infected wild rabbits.

Conclusion: Is vaccination necessary?
There has been a lot of concern in recent years about over-vaccinating our pets and whether annual vaccination is needed. Given the large number of deaths reported for both diseases and the ability for these diseases to spread to different geographical locations we feel vaccination is essential to protect all rabbits as there are no “safe areas”. In rabbits, a single vaccine has only been shown to provide protection for 9-12 months when vaccinated rabbits are challenged with RHD2, which is why we recommend that you give your rabbits annual vaccinations. Additionally, one study showed that cross-immunity between RHD1 and RHD2 was minimal and so both vaccines are needed to ensure adequate protection.