Pet Passport Scheme - Fact Sheet 

Animals imported in to Britain used to be isolated for six months before they were allowed move freely. This was quarantine. During this period any deadly diseases that they may have been carrying will have had time to develop, thereby protecting animals and people in this country. One such disease is rabies, which causes a fatal infection which can be passed through mammals by biting. Britain has been clear of the disease since the beginning of this century. Today, there is a reliable rabies vaccine and there are better ways of preventing the other diseases of coming in to the country.

The arrival of the PET PASSPORT SCHEME has meant that there is no need for quarantine for animals coming from certain countries, namely mainland Europe, Australia, Japan and the USA. Other countries are being added to the scheme all the time.

This means that you can take your cat or dog on holiday with you as long as you follow strict requirements.

Cats or dogs are able to travel provided they have:

  • An approved microchip, prior to rabies vaccination.
  • Had a vaccination against rabies and kept booster vaccinations up to date.
  • Has been issued with a blue UK Pet Passport.
  • Had a treatment against certain parasites before their return to the UK.

The current rules have applied from January 2012 and replace more complex rules up til then:
Your pet no longer needs to have a blood test and there is no long six month wait before the passport is activated.

This practice is able to carry out all the stages as our veterinary surgeons are licensed by DEFRA as local veterinary inspectors.

Before you go away we strongly recommend that you pop in to check that your pets microchip is working. They are very reliable but it is still worth doing, to avoid major problems should this not be the case. Better to find out in the UK than to get stuck abroad, with the possibility of an expensive quarantine. Please bring your passport with you so that we can check all rubber stamps are in place and it is filled in correctly.



There is one important thing to do before coming back to the UK:
The ideal with the pet passport scheme is to prevent rabies and certain other diseases from entering the UK. These other diseases are carried by worms. Therefore your pet will need to be treated against these whilst you are still abroad. The time frame is between 1-4 days before entering the UK. You will need to go to a local vet abroad and get them to do the treatments and record that they have done so in the passport. This need for treatment may be arduous but most vets abroad are able to do it. So it is just a matter of finding a local practice and making an appointment.

To find out whether the country you are going to is in the pet passport scheme and to see if there are special requirements (Finland, Cyprus for example) please do check the DEFRA pet travel scheme website. PLEASE DO CHECK THE DEFRA PET TRAVEL SCHEME WEBSITE REGULARLY FOR ANY CHANGES TO THE ABOVE INFORMATION.

Is there more to worry about than Rabies?

When considering whether to take your pet abroad on holiday with you, it is important to realise that there are a number of exotic infections to which animals from this country will have no immunity.  These are transmitted by a range of insects

Diseases transmitted by ticks

Babesiosis (Piroplasmosis): Babesiosis is caused by protozoan parasites they are transmitted by ticks of several species and attack red blood cells.  Canine Babesiosis has a global distribution commonly affecting domestic dogs in Europe, Africa and Asia.  Dogs with Babesiosis show signs including high fever, lethargy, weakness, red urine and collapse in severe cases.  Later severe anaemia, jaundice and multiple organ failure can occur.  There is no vaccine for dogs but the disease is prevented by aggressive tick control.

Ehrlichiosis: Ehrlichiosis is caused by tick-transmitted bacteria that invade white blood cells and in some cases platelets.  It has been reported from Europe, USA and Africa.  German Shepherds are predisposed to serious disease and may develop a fatal form of infection.  Signs include intermittent fever, enlarged lymph nodes, bleeding in the gums, urine, from the nose and in the eye, weight loss and severe eye disease.  There is no vaccination but the disease may be prevented by aggressive tick control.

Disease transmitted by Sandflies

Leishmaniasis: Leishmaniasis is caused by a protozoan parasite and is transmitted by Sandflies.  Dogs are the major reservoir for this infection.  It is extremely common in countries surrounding the Mediterranean and in South America.  In endemic areas of Spain, Italy and Balearic Islands the infections prevalence in dogs may approach 90%.  Most recently it has spread across the USA and Canada.  The disease is chronic and may have an incubation period of months or even years.  Skin lesions like hair loss, scaling and ulceration are common particularly involving the head and pressure points.  These incur in combination with an enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged spleen, weight loss, kidney, joint and eye symptoms plus nose bleeds.  Treatment is rarely if ever curative and dogs remain infected for life.  There is no vaccination and infection is prevented by decreasing exposure to Sandflies.  The use of insect repellents and keeping the dog in between 7pm and 7am is recommended.  This infection causes disease in humans, particularly immunosuppressed adults.

Disease transmitted by Mosquitoes

Heartworm disease: Heartworm disease is caused by a nematode worm that is transmitted by mosquitoes.  It is common in southern Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and south eastern and eastern Asia including Japan.  In Europe it is prevalent in Portugal, Spain, Southern France, Italy, Greece and other peri-mediterranean countries.  The dog is the primary host.  The microscopic larval parasites are transmitted by mosquitoes into the skin and from there they migrate slowly through the body to a major blood vessel leading to the lungs.  Here they may reach adult size (up to 30cm).  The onset of disease is usually slow (usually months to years) unless the dog has been exposed to a large number of infected mosquitoes at the same time.  Clinic signs include exercise intolerance, coughing, weight loss and occasionally death.  Treatment of Heartworm infection in dogs is complex and potentially dangerous.  As they are killed the worms are washed into the blood vessels of the lungs where they may cause clots.  Heartworm can easily be prevented.  Heartworm can affect humans but it is extremely rare.

For all these diseases PREVENTION is of the utmost importance.  A program of products for tick control, sandfly repellent or mosquito control and heartworm prevention should be initiated at least two weeks before travel.  For information on the best products to use please talk to one of our veterinary surgeons.

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