On Vacation!

The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) is the system that allows pet dogs (also cats and ferrets) from certain countries to enter the UK without quarantine as long as they meet the rules.   It also means that people in the UK can take their dogs (also cats and ferrets) to other European Union (EU) countries, and return with them to the UK.  They can also, having taken their dogs to certain non-EU countries, bring them back to the UK without the need for quarantine.  These rules are to keep the UK free from rabies and certain other diseases.

So, if you are thinking of travelling ‘across the channel’ and want to take your Spinone along too it is obviously possible, but you need to think well ahead and employ some help from your vet. 

The following has been extracted from the Defra website and is just the ‘key points’ from the extensive information provided.  It would be prudent for you to read all that Defra have to say and their website address is – www.defra.gov.uk – where the Pet Travel Scheme is clearly shown and the PETS Helpline number is 0870 241 1710, (Monday-Friday, 08.30-17.00).

To bring your dog into the UK under PETS from one of the listed countries you must have it first microchipped, then vaccinated against rabies and then blood tested.  There are no exceptions to this order of preparation apart from the exemption explained in the next sentence.  If your pet is resident in France, Denmark or Sweden these procedures may be done in a different order.   (There are no requirements for pets travelling directly between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.)

      This is how it works -

  • * Your dog can be fitted with a microchip in any country.  The rabies vaccination (including boosters), blood sampling, issuing the PETS documentation and the tick and tapeworm treatment must all be carried out in the UK or any of the other qualifying countries (these are listed on the website).

  • * Your dog may not enter the UK under PETS until six calendar months have passed from the date that your vet took the blood sample which led to a satisfactory test result.  Once the vet has issued the PETS documentation and that six month period has passed, the PETS documentation is valid for your dog to enter the UK.

  • * There is a 21 day wait before your dog can enter other EU countries.

The procedure is as follows –

  • * Have your dog microchipped – before any of the other procedures for PETS are carried out, your dog must be fitted with a microchip so that it can be identified.

  • * Have your dog vaccinated – after the microchip has been fitted your dog must be vaccinated against rabies.   There is no exemption to this requirement, even if your dog has a current rabies vaccination.

  • * Arrange a blood test – after your dog has been vaccinated, it must be blood tested to make sure that the vaccine has given it a satisfactory level of protection against rabies.

  • * Get PETS documentation – for dogs being prepared in an EU country, you should get an EU pet passport.  If you are preparing your dog in a non-EU country you will need to obtain an official third country veterinary certificate, although note that Gibraltar and Switzerland are also issuing passports.   Dogs can also enter the UK using a PETS certificate issued before 1 October 2004 until its “valid until” date.  (Certificates issued on or after that date will not be acceptable for entry to the UK).

  • * Before your dog enters the UK, it must be treated against ticks and tapeworm – your dog must be treated against ticks and tapeworm not less than 24 hours and not more that 48 hours before it is checked-in with an approved transport company for its journey into the UK.  Your dog must be treated against the tapeworm *Echinoccoccus multilocularis using a veterinary medicine whose active ingredient is praziquantel.   The tick treatment must be licensed for use against ticks and have a marketing authorisation in the country of use.  The tick *Rhipicephalus sanguineus can carry diseases that are harmful to humans. A collar impregnated with acaricide is not acceptable, and Stronghold is not a licensed treatment for ticks.    (*Neither of these are thought to be currently present in the UK). 

  • * Your dog must enter the UK from a listed country travelling with an approved transport company on an authorised route (these are listed on the website).   Check with the company before booking your tickets that they are prepared to carry your pet.

  • * Note– your dog may travel to the UK via any qualifying country or countries, but, it must not have been to any non-qualifying country in the 6 months before entering the UK.   Also you may not bring your dog into the UK under PETS from a private boat or plane.

That is an edited version of the PETS scheme, therefore, please do check all the details for yourself if you are planning to travel to Europe with your dog.   And having made the decision that you are taking ‘Spinone’ with you, check at every stage that the documentation to accompany him or her has been completed accurately, including dates, times using the 24 hour clock, product details and batch numbers, certificates for tick and tapeworm treatments, and that the microchip number is checked and recorded correctly.  

It is your responsibility to make sure your pet’s treatment has been recorded correctly in the appropriate section of your pet’s passport or third country certificate.   If you do not, and it is incorrect, your dog may not be able to enter the country or may have to be licensed into quarantine on arrival.   This will mean delay, probably cost you money and, more importantly, cause your Spinone distress.

The Defra website also covers other more general but very relevant travelling tips, such as care in hot climates and not leaving dogs in cars; travelling overnight on planes or boats when the dog can sleep as it would normally; not feeding immediately before travelling, etc.   I am impressed by the amount and depth of information given on this topic by Defra, although at first reading it seems a bit daunting, leaving you feeling it might just be better to put ‘Spinone’ in kennels and go alone.  But, with friends who have made the effort only this summer, they said it was a joy to have the ‘whole family’ with them and worth every bit of organisation and planning.

However, as I was researching this piece it was pertinent to read in the 20th October 2006 copy of Our Dogs, Abby Firth’s Italian Spinone breed notes (as always, very informative) included details of the seminar to be held on Canine Leishmaniasis - a deadly disease endemic in parts of France and some Mediterranean countries.  As Abby said in her notes “Thousands of dogs are travelling to and from the UK with the introduction of the Pet Passport Scheme, not only for holidays but for exhibition and mating, so it behoves us all to be aware of the scientific advances in the control and treatment of this disease”.   Unfortunately I was not able to attend the seminar but, hopefully, someone from the ISCGB did manage to get there and is writing up the facts and information for all of us to take into account.

Regrettably Leishmaniasis is not the only exotic disease to be aware of when travelling to Europe, as I have found out.   Sally Griffin (who travels frequently to Italy with her dogs) has also pointed out to me that it is important to be aware of the potential risk of infection from Dirofilaria immitis which may result in heartworm disease.  Cristiana Hill, our veterinary advisor, tells me that both are transmitted by flying insects (Lieshmaniasis by sandflies and Dirofilaria immitis by numerous species of mosquitoes) and as they are most active between dusk and dawn, it is best to keep animals indoors at these times and to use a preventative treatment such as Scalibor (insecticide collar).  Other diseases such as borreliosis, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis and hepatozoonosis are all transmitted by various species of ticks, so it is essential to protect your dog against ticks before you travel.   While the native dog population may have some degree of immunity to these diseases, the UK dog on holiday is naïve to these infections and so at much higher risk.   

Therefore, it would be prudent to check out the diseases your dog could be exposed to in the countries to which you are travelling and, if at all possible, arrange preventative measures before you leave the UK – talk to your vet about this well in advance of your departure date.  Even more importantly, it is wise to make contact with the local ‘holiday’ vet, to find out which diseases are present in the area in which you are staying, so that you can take the most appropriate precautions.  It is obviously worth knowing your ‘holiday’ vet just in case your dog becomes unwell while away. (And of course, see your vet immediately if your Spinone becomes ill soon after returning from Europe).

On a positive note, whatever you decide and wherever it may be, I hope you and your Spinone have a great vacation.

If you have any thoughts or comments on this topic, to share with other members, we would be interested to hear from you.   Please contact the ISCGB via me, Gillie Gomarsall, on 01284 735222 or e-mail – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For immediate health and dietary advice, please telephone Elaine Kirkham, Health Sub-Committee          Co-ordinator on 0121-444 5478.