The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS)
Many people are now taking their pets abroad on holiday with them and with changes to the legislation made on 1 January 2012 this has been made even easier to do.
The UK has harmonised its pet movement rules with the rest of the European Union (effective 1.1.2012) bringing the UK’s Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) into line with the most recent science.
Having pets spend six months in quarantine, a practice dating from the 1800’s, is no longer necessary because of vastly improved rabies vaccines and treatments.
All pets still need to be vaccinated against rabies. Pets from the UK starting the scheme (and other EU and listed non-EU countries such as the USA and Australia) no longer require a blood test and only have to wait 21 days before they travel. Pets from unlisted non-EU countries such as India, Brazil and South Africa are able to enter the UK if they meet certain strict criteria to ensure they are protected against rabies. This includes a blood test and a three-month wait before they enter the UK.
Even with these changes having been made, the risk of rabies coming to the UK remains extremely low.
The UK has been discussing with the European Commission the most appropriate form of tapeworm controls for dogs, to ensure the UK continues to be protected from Echinococcus multilocularis - a worm that can cause serious or even fatal illness in humans. The Commission indicated that its proposals, expected shortly, would enable the UK and other tapeworm-free countries to retain tapeworm controls, with a requirement that animals be treated between one and five days before returning to the UK.
Tick treatment for pet animals returning to the UK is no longer required. All pet owners travelling abroad with their animals should discuss the use of treatments with a member of the team at Hillside, including those designed to control ticks as part of on-going good animal health practice.
The UK, along with Ireland, Sweden and Malta, has an exemption from the standard EU pet travel rules.
It’s always important to remember that PETS is in place to prevent the entry of diseases that can cause serious illness or death to us as humans as well as our pets. Some of the changes to the scheme in 2012 leave a potential risk of allowing specific diseases that can infect our pets to enter the UK which would have previously been covered (eg, tick-borne diseases). Hence it's more important than ever, to discuss the individual preventative treatments required for your pet in addition to those required in law by the scheme when you go away on holiday. These preventative strategies can be individually tailored to your area of travel and your time away from the UK. At Hillside Vets we are happy to discuss your individual requirements, check all paperwork and your pet's micro-chip before travel for peace of mind. We recommend doing this two-four weeks prior to your holiday, so please ensure you book an appointment early enough.
It’s also advisable to think about any additional diseases that your dog (or cat) may be exposed to while abroad, particularly if you’re travelling to Mediterranean countries. These include leishmaniasis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, hepatozoonosis and heartworm. Prior to travelling, always book an appointment with a vet where we can tailor a preventative treatment plan for these potential diseases.
See the table below which shows a comparison of the changes made to the rules that came into effect from 1 January 2012.
|What has to be done||Previously||From 1st January 2012|
|Blood test (dogs and cats)||Yes||No|
|Pre-entry waiting period||Yes||Yes|
|Length of waiting period before
entry to the UK
|6 months from date
sample taken for
|21 days after vaccination
|Tick treatment||Yes (24-48 hours
|Tapeworm treatment||Yes (as for ticks)||Under consideration at
Finally, remember to pack a special pet bag! It’s a good idea to take things like favourite toys, blanket, food, water and a grooming kit. It’s important to make sure that your pet is comfortable for the journey, with plenty of room to lie down and turn around.
Hillside offers a pre-holiday health check for your pet, together with further information about travelling abroad with your pet under PETS. Call the surgery to book an appointment. See also our Holiday check list for your pet
Useful websites/telephone numbers for further information:
DEFRA helpline: 03459 335577
PETS helpline: 0370 2411710