Summer is often a time for travel, as we seek a change of scenery and lifestyle, often in pursuit of warmer weather. This year, many of us have stayed home in the U.K. on account of all the sunshine. For those of us who seek varied and distant pastures, we need to consider whether our four legged companions should come along for the ride.
Travelling within the U.K. is obviously more straight forward and often a better idea than taking our pets further afield, however the idea of leaving our pets at home is not an option for some of us.
So... Planning ahead is definitely a good idea.
Travelling can be very stressful for pets, taking them out of their regular routine and comfort zone. Personally I don’t think it’s a good idea to travel with cats, unless it’s for a more permanent move. They are very territorial and generally don’t cope well with changes in their environment.
Do some homework about where you are going...research the common parasites and preventable diseases at your destination. This will allow you to prepare and administer any appropriate preventative treatment before leaving for your holiday.
WHAT TO CONSIDER
If you are considering taking your dog abroad with you on your next holiday planning in advance is key. Here are some of the things you will need to consider when traveling overseas with your pet.
1/ A microchip. It is now a legal requirement to have all dogs microchipped in the U.K.and all dogs and cats must be microchipped in order to get a passport.
2/ A current passport - this will contain some basic personal information (although pets can only be correctly identified via their microchip), their current vaccination status and relevant parasite prevention information. All sections of your passport should be stamped and signed by an official veterinarian.
3/ An up to date Rabies vaccination. You need this in order to travel to many foreign countries and also to return to the U.K. Your pet will need to be at least 3 months of age before it can have a Rabies vaccination and will need to wait 3 weeks after this, before they can travel. Some countries have particular rules so you should always check this with DEFRA.
* Rabies vaccinations are not a requirement for pets living in the U.K if they don’t travel overseas.
4/ Other vaccinations: these are not compulsory for travel to most places in the EU, although as they are normally recommended for most pets living in the U.K., it doesn’t hurt to make sure that your pets have some immunity against the more common infectious diseases (frequency of routine vaccinations is another topic altogether!)
There is a relatively new vaccine now available for pets travelling to countries where Leishmania is present e.g. some coastal areas in Italy and Spain, where sandflies are a problem. This vaccine course takes 6 weeks to complete so is a good example of when pre-planning is needed.
5/ Parasite control: all dogs that return to the U.K. from some time abroad, need to have a tapeworm tablet administered by a vet (and their passport signed as proof) within 1-5 days prior to entering the country. On the other hand, it is advisable to make sure that all pets are up to date with their parasite control (external and internal) prior to travelling to a foreign country, where the prevalent parasite may be different.
Ticks can be a problem in certain European countries and also in the British countryside, if you are travelling closer to home. Symptoms of tick borne disease will not appear straight away. They will usually become apparent after you have returned from your travels and may present some quite unusual symptoms.
In the event of any signs of illness, don’t forget to remind your vet of your recent travels, so they can consider other parasitic diseases which are not normally present in the UK.
FLYING WITH A DOG
When taking your dogs on a plane there are things you need to carefully consider.
Can they be taken into the cabin with you?
- Many airline companies do not allow pets to be in the cabin and most do not let you fly with your pet in the cabin into the U.K.
Currently dogs and cats apart from guide and assistance dogs cannot be taken on the Eurostar.
Will they cope with the stress of travelling?
- It is now forbidden to sedate pets on flights although there are some more natural supplements and calming sprays / spot ons that can be helpful: eg Nutracalm capsules in food and Valerian drops, Feliway spray for cat carriers. Acclimatising them to their carrier or crate is also important and should be started at least a few weeks before you plan on travelling with them.
After weighing up all the pros and cons, you may then decide that it is best to leave your furry friends at home. There are so many options these days when it comes to help and support for people and their pets. This is one of the reasons for why creating a community is important.
Most pet owners can manage their pets travel arrangements for short trips and holidays whereas permanent moves are often more stressful and complicated.
* For help transporting / moving your pets overseas for more permanent moves try:
* For help looking after your pets whilst you are away on shorter trips:
There are many professional pet sitting companies, often word of mouth is the best way to find the most suitable person. Talk to your vet as they will often have a list of trusted or recommended people. Often the veterinary practice’s nurses’ will be happy to look after their clients pets so it is always worth asking.
Peace of mind is everything, whether we are travelling with our pets or leaving them behind.
Odile Sicouri is of French-Mediterranean parentage and grew up in Western Australia, in an environment where animals were an important and ever present part of the familial landscape.
She has made London her home for the past 15 years and has worked in a variety of small animal practices in London. In the past, she has worked with endangered marsupials in Australia, with Orang-utans in Borneo and has devoted time to charities in Morocco and India.
Her approach to pet health care is holistic. She wants people to look at their pets as a ‘whole’. To refrain from humanising them too much but to understand that they do have individual needs. It is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to our pets’ health care, and ultimately, their welfare.
She is passionate about all animals and the role that vets should play in educating the public about some of the more contentious issues. With the rise in popularity of breeds that are often selected for physical traits that disadvantage them, it seems that role is more important than ever.
The impact of pet ownership on the environment is also something that she wants people to pro-actively think about.
She lives with her rescue cat, Leonard. He teaches her patience.