As we start to look forward to a summer getaway and travelling abroad, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has warned globetrotters planning to take their pets with them to take precautions to keep them healthy and prevent parasite and disease problems.
Animal welfare charity the Animal Welfare Foundation has a handy pre-travel check list available for pet owners planning their holiday, from its ‘Taking Your Pets Abroad’ leaflet. This advice will help ensure you cover legal requirements, as well as helping to prevent parasite problems.
The key piece of advice is to see your vet at least three weeks before you travel.
Then you can:
- Discuss with your vet the countries you intend to travel to and what specific health risks your pet may be exposed to
- Get a clinical examination to make sure your pet is fit to travel
- Check that rabies vaccinations and pet passports are up to date
- Ensure the microchip is working properly
- Discuss preventative treatments to protect your pet against ticks, sandflies, heartworm and tapeworm while abroad
- Get the most effective medication for your pet and be shown how to administer it
One disease that can be a problem abroad is leishmaniasis, an infectious disease transmitted by sandflies. This occurs commonly in Mediterranean coastal areas.
The most common symptoms of this disease include skin inflammation and infection. If left untreated the disease is fatal in pets. The disease is also zoonotic, which means that it can be passed on to humans, although there has never been a reported case of dog to human transmission in the UK. The good news is that owners can take precautions against leishmaniasis, and the condition can be treated.
There are other diseases that may infect pets when they travel abroad and can cause serious health issues. These include:
Taking your dog away with you on holiday can be great fun. It’s important though to plan for the journey and what you need to do while you’re away so they enjoy it as much as you do.
And you do need to be aware of the health risks to your pets if they pick up unwanted bugs on their travels. Some of these diseases are very serious.
Early intervention by a vet can treat many of these diseases and prevent the worst from happening, although there may be long term health implications for the animal – so if you suspect your pet is ill, don’t delay.
Even better, there are clear precautions owners can take if they plan ahead. The adage prevention is better than cure certainly applies here, and the best way to plan for a happy trip without nasty parasites hitching a lift is to consult your vet as early as possible before you travel with your pet.