LAST time I sat down to write this column I was out in the garden enjoying some fantastic early spring sunshine, contemplating the hot and sunny summer that surely must lie ahead. I suppose it was inevitable that just as hosepipe bans were announced for much of southern England, the heavens should open and it seems to have been raining ever since.
The staff at Morpeth have certainly spent many nervous hours looking out over a steadily filling River Wansbeck and fearing a recurrence of 2008’s biblical flood.
Given the uncertain nature of Britain’s weather, it is no surprise that we see more and more people wanting to take their pets abroad for a holiday.
The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) permits the movement of pet animals (dogs, cats and ferrets) to the UK without the need for quarantine. The scheme was simplified in January of this year.
For travel to and from other EU Member States and certain other approved non-EU countries they must be microchipped, have an up-to-date vaccination against rabies and be issued with an EU pet passport. You have to wait 21 days after rabies vaccination before travelling. Dogs must be treated by a vet for tapeworm between 24 and 120 hours (one to five days) before arrival into the UK and the pet passport signed accordingly. No treatment is required for dogs entering from Finland, Ireland or Malta
Travelling further afield and to non-approved countries can be significantly more complicated and can take a lot of planning. For additional information, the DEFRA website www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel is a good place to start.
The travel scheme allows for the free movement of pets from country to country, but it is important that this should not be undertaken without serious thought. You need to consider if your pet is likely to be affected by the stress of long-distance travel, the high temperatures in many southern European countries and the risk of exposure to diseases not encountered in the UK.
Many diseases that occur abroad are not seen in the UK and several of them are transmitted by biting insects and ticks. Pets living in the UK will not have met these diseases and are likely to be highly susceptible. Many of these exotic diseases do not have licensed veterinary medicines available here, which means that there can sometimes be a delay in obtaining the correct drugs as they need special licenses to be imported from abroad. Fortunately, most of them can be easily prevented.
At Robson and Prescott, all our vets are Government-approved Official Veterinary Surgeons and so can issue EU pet passports. We offer pre-travel consultations, which include a full health check and advice on preventing exotic diseases. This should be at least three weeks before you travel as some of the medicines used for prevention of diseases must be started before you leave the UK.
It is not just foreign travel with your pet that needs a bit of planning though. In difficult financial times, many of us will be staying in the UK this summer, but there are still some parasites within our own borders that we should be protecting our pets from.
Ticks seem to be especially prevalent this year, probably because of a mild winter and wet spring. Lungworm infection also seems to be becoming more common, especially in the south of the UK. Both ticks and lungworm can be very easily controlled or prevented with spot-on products so it is well worth coming in to discuss what your pet might need.
Hopefully by the time you read this the sun will have come out again and we, and our pets, can start to enjoy all the variety that a Northumbrian summer has to offer.
Chris Green, Director and Senior Vet