Taking your pet on holiday with you within Europe is now easier than ever and more and more people are taking their dogs and cats abroad. To meet requirements for the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) your pet must be microchipped and vaccinated against Rabies. The pet must have a PETS passport completed and signed by an Official Veterinary Surgeon. There is a 21 day wait following the initial rabies vaccination before being able to travel abroad. For dogs only, on return to the UK there is a statutory need for a tapeworm treatment certified by a Vet 24-120 hours before your return to the UK. This is designed to prevent the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, which is dangerous to human health, from entering the UK.
The Pet Travel Scheme is designed to keep rabies and other disease out of the UK. However there are a number of other diseases that your pet could be exposed to whilst abroad that they would never encounter in the UK. It is important to ensure your pet is adequately protected whilst he or she is away.
Ticks are among the most important parasites when it comes to disease transmission in Europe. Ticks will attach and feed on the blood of your dog and cat. In doing so they can also transmit serious and potentially fatal diseases including Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis.
Babesia destroys the red blood cells; animals affected by Babesia develop severe anaemia which can lead to sudden death. Ehrlichia is also widespread in Europe. Affected animals develop fever, difficulty breathing and neurological problems.
Pets, like us, are also at risk of bites from Mosquitoes. These can transmit Heartworm. The larvae grow in the lungs and heart. It can take years for signs of heart failure and breathing problems to develop. Sandflies are a similar biting insect. They can transmit Leishmaniosis to both animals and humans. This can cause skin problems, liver and kidney disease and can be extremely difficult to treat. Sandflies only come out at night, so even with appropriate preventative treatments it is advisable to keep your pet indoors from sunset to dawn during summer months.
Heartworm and Leishmaniosis are endemic throughout Central and Southern Europe. There are a number of Veterinary products available to repel Mosquitoes and Sandflies and to help control Ticks. For example a ‘Scalibor’ collar will repel both Mosquitoes and Sandflies and will help control ticks for up to 6 months. Alternatively there are a number of Veterinary spot-on preparations and oral tablets which will provide cover.
Your vet will be able to give you advice on potential risks and devise a parasite protection plan suited to the individual requirements for you and your pet.
It is important to note that there may be additional requirements for pets travelling in and out of some EU countries. Please ensure that you check all up to date rules with DEFRA before travel.
Although not as common these days in the UK as it was years ago this disease is still being seen in general practice and it’s the canine parvo virus (CPV), this is a highly contagious viral illness usually affecting puppies but can also affect adult dogs.
CPV can be vaccinated against and puppies will usually have their first vaccination against this at 8 weeks old and a second one at 10 weeks although some may have a first vaccination given sooner. This particular vaccine is then given a year later and is then given during the leptospirosis vaccines but only every 3 years. The virus can take two different forms; the first being the intestinal form which is characterised by vomiting, severe diarrhoea (usually with blood), weight loss, lethargy, fever and lack of appetite. The intestinal form of CPV affects the body’s ability to absorb fluids and nutrients so the dog will suffer with dehydration and become very weak. The gums and eyes may become very red and the heart may beat very fast. Dogs that have contracted CPV may instead have a very low temperature rather than a fever and will usually have abdominal discomfort. The less common form is the cardiac form which attacks the heart muscles of very young puppies and this will usually lead to death.
The virus can either be transmitted by direct contact of an infected dog or by contact with faeces from an infected dog; this can be by the dog sniffing the faeces or you can bring the virus in to the dog’s environment on your shoes. The only way to kill the virus on your shoes is to clean them with a disinfectant known to kill off CPV, rescue homes and veterinary practices use these routinely in their cleaning protocol.
CPV can be diagnosed from blood and faeces testing but the treatment for the symptoms of this are the same whether it’s a negative or positive result. Dogs showing these clinical signs must be placed in isolation to stop the spread of the virus and the veterinary surgeon will treat the dog symptomatically; this may include intravenous fluids, nutrition therapy, antibiotics, and antiemetics. Puppies have a less developed immune system so it’s sadly very common for them to suffer shock and sudden death.
This is a condition that can be prevented so please always have your puppies vaccinated and keep your adult dogs up to date with their injections too. If you have any questions please contact your veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse.