Travelling abroad with your pet

Travelling abroad with your petIf you’re planning a holiday or longer trip abroad with your pet dog, cat or ferret (!) the first thing to do is to book a pre-travel consultation with your daytime vet as early as possible to make sure your pet is fit to travel and that you have time to get all of the required and recommended treatments.

Where are you going and what do you need to do before you travel?

There are different rules depending on where you are travelling to and from and you will need to discuss your own specific travel plans with your daytime vet. As well as complying with the legal requirements of PETS (Pet Travel Scheme) - the British Veterinary Association advises that you take preventive action to protect your pet and yourself.

If you are travelling to and from the EU and some countries that are approved or ‘listed’ (such as the USA and Australia) your pet will need to be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before travelling, and have an EU pet passport (or official veterinary certificate from a third country).

To re-enter the UK or to enter Ireland, Malta or Finland dogs will also need to be treated for tapeworm by a veterinary surgeon 24 to 120 hours (1-5 days) before entry. This is to offer protection against a tapeworm that does not currently exist in these four countries and that could ultimately cause serious human health problems.

If you are travelling further afield to a non-approved or ‘unlisted third country’ (such as India, China and Sri Lanka) you will need to find out what the entry requirements are of the country you are travelling to.

Whatever the specific rules are for entering these ‘unlisted’ countries, in order to re-enter UK your pet will need to be microchipped, be vaccinated against rabies, wait 30 days, have a blood test to check the rabies vaccination has worked, and then wait 3 months. This means the 6-month quarantine period is no longer required. Dogs must be treated for tapeworm by a veterinary surgeon 1-5 days before re-entry. Your pet will need an EU pet passport or official veterinary certificate to document all of these stages.

So that covers the legal requirements, but it is very important to remember that the European legislation covering pet travel is mainly aimed at protecting people, not pets. So if you want to make sure your animal is healthy and happy when travelling you should follow the additional advice from your vet.

Tick treatments are no longer a legal requirement but they are essential for keeping your pet safe from a range of nasty tick-borne diseases, such as babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and hepatozoonosis. Treatment should start before you travel and continue while you are away. Remember to take a tick removal device with you (these can be obtained from your vet).

  • Your vet will also talk to you about how to protect your pet against leishmaniasis (transmitted by sandflies) using sandfly repellents, and against heartworm (transmitted by certain mosquitoes) using preventive medicines. These treatments will usually need to start three weeks before you travel.
  • You should check your insurance policy to make sure your pet is covered for all your trips abroad.

Last, but by no means least, you must be aware of your pet’s health and general wellbeing during travel and while abroad. If you are in any doubt, consider leaving your pet with friends and family or in local boarding kennels. Have a look at our advice on pet care options for holidays if you think this might be the best option for you and your pooch.

Click here for a handy leaflet from the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation charity on taking your pet abroad.

Happy holidays!


The above information has kindly been provided by our friends at the British Veterinary Association.