If you have skipped watching the news some 17 years ago, you may still ask yourself the question: can I take my dog abroad? and do dogs need passports? As the holiday period approached with warmer weather in UK and in neighbouring countries, you may be thinking about taking your pet abroad. Well, before you start making plans, let me talk to you today about the UK’s Pet Travel Scheme and its shortfalls.
What Is PETS
For strict UK up to the end of the last century, welcoming new pets or returning pets on Great British land was not a pleasant nor speedy affair for either pets or owners.
In fact up to 2001, pets wanting to enter UK would have had to be kept in quarantine for 6 months before being released on UK land, during which period they were due to undergo tests and vaccination against rabies.
With the introduction of PETS in 2001, or Pet Passport, cats and dogs are issued a passport by an approved vet before entering UK, which will confirm that your dog is microchipped and has received immunization against rabies and tapeworm.
This document enables your pet to travel with you without being held at Customs for the old customary quarantine.
- FACT => Just a point to note. As UK is preparing to leave the European community next year, I am not sure at this stage how the changes to be implemented under Brexit are going to impact on such things as free travel of duly vaccinated pets. It will remain to be seen, but I would wholeheartedly hope that customs law does not revert to the old quarantine system.
The Advantages Of PETS
The most striking advantage of PETS, of course, I have already mentioned.
When travelling to UK with your pet – dog or cat, but even any other type of pets – you no longer have to leave your pet at customs for 6 months.
In the past this was a complete put-off for dog owners, and it often resulted in dog owning families either not travelling abroad, or having to leave their dogs behind when going on holiday abroad with the rest of the family. Which in itself defeats the object of having a dog with whom to share our family life.
You can see how, therefore, the Pet Passport has been welcomed since its introduction, as it has enabled many families of dog owners to take their dogs with them during their journeys to other parts of Europe.
Not only that, but if you think of internationally renowned dog shows taking place both in UK and in other parts of Europe (to mention but one, Crufts), you can easily imagine how the introduction of the Pet Passport will have made life easier for those dog owners travelling from and to UK trying to collect accolades and rosettes.
FACT => Whilst European airlines allow cats and dogs to embark on airplanes with their owners in the passenger cabin, provided they are carried in specific travel cots, UK does not allow dogs and cats to enter the country on inbound flights in the passenger cabin at all. Nor are pets allowed to fly in the passenger cabin on internal flights. Cats and dogs will have to travel in the hold of the aircraft as cargo. UK does not restrict cats and dogs from being taken in the passenger cabin on exiting the country, but airlines at present put restrictions.
But a medal, however gold it may be, always has two sides.
Let’s see what’s hiding on the ‘darker’ side of PETS.
The Drawbacks Of PETS
We have never taken Indy abroad. Not yet. But then, we may never do. Not to blame the passport and the several vaccines which are required, which Indy has anyway. But more due to the fact that we tend not to have holidays abroad, full stop.
Nevertheless, for a long time I have searched and researched the possibility of taking Indy abroad. Recently I have come across some concerning news about the limitations of PETS, which I am going to share with you.
Since 2012 it appears that the Pet Passport no longer makes it compulsory for dogs to be vaccinated against ticks on entering or exiting UK.
What this means is that potentially dogs entering UK, who have not been vaccined against ticks, may bring ticks in UK.
As the article I read (as published in Tailster.com) points out that of course UK does have ticks.
However ticks ‘imported’ from other countries may be immune to the type of treatments available in UK. In fact in some cases UK have not yet developed adequate veterinary treatment to kill off specific and more aggressive types of ticks coming from other countries.
As a result, ticks may spread more widely amongst humans too, sticking to your clothes, bedding and furniture and, even more worryingly, to other people. The chain is endless!
It is even vented that the open wound caused by ticks when feeding on your dog’s blood supply may leave open access to other blood feeding pest, such as specific types of mosquitoes or flies, which could introduce more serious and potentially fatal diseases.
Do Border Terriers Like Going Abroad?
Borders, like all other dog breeds, may not quite be aware that their human family has stepped over the border. But Borders are renowned for enjoying a bit of an out of the ordinary trip with their human family.
Naturally they will still look for their meals at their body clock time, or for the usual after lunch nap. Nor will they make any exception to their bed time.
It is important therefore that you plan your holiday, bearing in mind not only your needs and wants of trekking up and down a historic town cobble stones for hours on end, but also the need and requirement of your Border.
And what about their vaccinations and their Pet Passport requirements?
Again, in this I don’t think Borders are any different to other breeds. In so far that, like us humans, some Border react better to vaccines and some are made to feel slightly more under the weather.
Now, it may be easier to arrange for your dog’s inoculation prior to going on holiday, as you may see your dog’s regular vet, who will know your dog’s medical history. But ensure that when you are abroad wanting to get back home, you book a visit to a reputable vet, who is recommended through impartial reviews.
I am sure you can easily imagine how so many vet surgeries may have blossomed in places such as port towns, especially since the introduction of PETS. It’s only but fair that we do our homework on safe health care for your Border as much as we would do for ourselves.
We should also take into account whether our Borders may have some minor adverse reaction to a vaccine, and change our holiday plans accordingly in order to tend to our dog’s every need.
Borders, when poorly, do love a comforting cuddle.
All the scary above said, am I trying to dissuade dog owners and their families from going on holiday abroad? Not in the least!
There is nothing more fun than taking your dog on holiday with you. I expect it to be equally fun to go on a greater scale expedition abroad.
Spending fun time with your dog, I believe, enhances and strengthens that bond between us and our canine baby.
But, before organizing the next trip abroad with your dog, it is wise that you speak to your vet about your holiday plans. Your vet might advise whether your dog is fit enough to sustain the extra excitement – or whether he might be too senior, or not fit enough if (s)he’s recently undergone medical treatment.
The main thing that your vet will be able to advise, however, when a dog is fit for longer journeys abroad, is whether to increase the level of immunization to cover specific types of pest more recurrently present in the country you are going to visit.
Just like we humans get vaccinated for the type of diseases most recurrently occurring in the country we are intending to visit, so that we don’t get ill when abroad, but also to prevent us from bringing the disease back home; the same happens in veterinary world with our pets.
The last thing we want for our dogs is to get ill when abroad. So, be cautious, talk to your vet and take extra precautionary measures.
I am sure many of you out there will tell me you have taken your dog abroad so many times, and every time you have had a wonderful holiday which would have been the same fun without your fur baby. Maybe you would like to share your experience with me and with other readers? Leave your comment below, and tell us what you think about pros and cons of the Pet Passport.
Enjoy your holidays abroad with your hound!