Ultimately, of course, it depends on where you’re going. In addition, you will need to make enquiries and find out what the legal requirements for entry are – and for re-entry into the UK afterwards!
So, what are the legal requirements?
For most EU countries, there are no particular entry requirements to take your dog abroad; however, they will not be allowed straight back into the UK afterwards unless they have been vaccinated against rabies and have a legal Pet Passport to prove it. In addition, they must have been treated against tapeworms between 24 and 120 hours before returning (unless you’re coming directly from Ireland, Finland, Malta or Norway).
If you’re travelling outside the EU, it gets more complicated. Each country sets its own entry requirements, and most of them require that your dog is certified as free from disease by a vet before entry. If in doubt, give us a call and we can advise you! Coming back from non-EU countries is also complex; some destinations are “listed countries”, which means that their requirements for re-entry into the UK are similar to those for the EU (for example, Canada, Japan and the USA); these “Listed Countries” are specified here. If you’re coming from any other country, you still need to have your dog rabies vaccinated, but they must also pass a blood test (unless the vaccination was done in an EU country and certified on a Pet Passport).
We strongly advise all clients wishing to take their dogs outside the EU to read our website and research themselves the guidelines and information well in advance of travel. Click here for the website page.
If you want more information about the legal requirements, see the DEFRA pet travel website.
What if my rabies vaccination is out of date or I don’t have the paperwork?
In that case, your dog will have to spend time in quarantine before being allowed back into the UK. They will have to stay there for up to 4 months, to demonstrate that they aren’t carrying rabies.
OK, that’s the law – do I need to do anything else?
Definitely – the legal requirements are the bare minimum, designed to protect the UK from disease (mainly rabies and the Hydatid Tapeworm, Echinococcus multilocularis). They are not intended to protect your dog from any health risks.
The specific risks to your dog’s health will of course depend on where you’re going, as the world is full of “exotic” diseases not found in the UK. In Europe, the major threats to dog health are:
This is a parasite that is transmitted by sandflies living around Mediterranean coastlines; it causes weight loss, skin and eye infection and inflammation, enlarged lymph nodes and chronic lameness. Although it can be treated, it is almost impossible to cure completely. The best way to prevent it is to avoid woodland and shady areas during the dawn and dusk periods, prevent your dog from sleeping outside and use an effective sandfly repellant. There is also a vaccine available – talk to one of our vets about suitable repellants and medications.
This is (unsurprisingly) a worm that lives in the dog’s heart, called Dirofilaria immitis. It is transmitted by mosquitoes, and eventually (but often not for 6-12 months) causes heart failure and difficulty breathing. The best prevention is by using effective mosquito repellants for dogs (our vets can advise you) and, if you’re travelling to a high-risk area (like southern France), medications to kill the parasites before they become established.
This is an infectious disease transmitted through infected birth fluids of bitches, and also by the venereal route (essentially, it’s a dog STD); it is most common in Eastern Europe. It can, rarely, affect humans as well, so don’t be tempted to help out with newborn puppies in a high-risk area! The best method of prevention is to avoid contact with whelping bitches, and not to let your pet have sex with any locals…
Ticks can carry a wide range of nasty conditions (even in the UK we have Lyme disease and now Babesiosis); in continental Europe, infections also include Ehrlichiosis (which damages blood vessels and causes abnormal bleeding), Hepatozoonosis (most common around the Mediterranean, a protozoal parasite causing fever, weight loss, pain and anaemia), and Tick-Borne Encephalitis (a virus that damages the brain and nerves, and can infect humans, found sporadically across mainland Europe). The best way to prevent infection with these diseases is to use a tick repellent and tick-killing drug; and to remove ticks rapidly once found – ticks are unlikely to transmit disease in the first 24-48 hours of feeding.
So, if you’re planning to take your dog abroad, come in and talk to one of our vets in plenty of time, and we can put together a suitable treatment plan to make sure they come back happy and healthy!