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Vets issue handy checklist for bug-free summer travels abroad with your pet

As holidaymakers across the UK start preparations for summer getaways, the British BVA is urging jet-setting pet owners to take steps now to make sure their pets don’t pick up worms, ticks and other parasites on holidays abroad.

Many vector-borne diseases that occur abroad are not seen in the UK, which leaves dogs and other pets potentially unprotected and susceptible to contracting them. Such diseases can be transmitted from one animal to another, including from animals to humans, often by biting insects such as mosquitoes and ticks.

These exotic diseases include leishmaniasis, an infectious disease transmitted by sandflies, which occur commonly in Mediterranean coastal areas; Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Hepatozoonosis, Heartworm, Canine brucellosis, Rabies and Tapeworm, among others.

In BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey last year, a concerning 27% of companion animal vets said that they had seen cases of leishmaniasis in their practice in the previous twelve months, with smaller numbers of vets also reporting cases of conditions like ehrlichiosis and heartworm. While many of these cases are suspected to have come from imported rescued dogs with unknown health histories, pets who have recently travelled abroad could also bring back these diseases.

BVA Junior Vice President Daniella Dos Santos said:

“We know that a holiday abroad with a much-loved pet can be fun, but owners should be aware of the serious health risks from unwanted bugs hitching a ride on our pets. Prevention is always better than cure, and the good news is that there are clear precautionary measures owners can take if they plan ahead.

“I’d encourage pet owners to contact their local vet for information on pet travel requirements and to book an appointment as soon as possible to make sure their pet is fully protected when it travels this summer.”

Pet travel checklist

  1. Book an appointment with your vet at least three weeks before travel to get your pet started on the right medication at the right time. Discuss the countries you intend to travel so that your vet can identify specific health risks to which your pet may be exposed
  2. Check that the rabies vaccination and pet passport are up to date
  3. Ensure the microchip is working and reading correctly
  4. Speak to your vet about preventive treatment needed to protect your dog against ticks, sandflies, heartworm and tapeworm and any other potential parasites or diseases. While tick treatments are not required under the pet travel scheme, BVA strongly advises that preventive, or prophylactic, tick treatment is continued. 
  5. Talk to your vet if going somewhere hot to discuss prevention of heatstroke and how to recognise symptoms of the condition in your dog
  6. Identify a local vet in the area where you will be holidaying in case of an emergency and to administer (necessary) tapeworm treatment to dogs one to five days before arrival back into the UK.
  7. If your pet becomes ill after returning to the UK, it is very important to tell your vet that you have been abroad with your pet, even if it was some time ago.


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