Don't put a tick in that box!

I’m happy to admit that up until now I’ve been one of those people who revelled in the fact that I’ve been able to avoid school holidays when taking a week off. When travelling “off peak”, not only is it cheaper, but you get that smug feeling that everything is a bit quieter, a bit easier, a bit less stressful…  I hate queueing and would happily take a half hour detour to avoid a 15 minute traffic jam - just so that I feel like I’m making some progress. Seeing the chaos at Dover as everyone tried to get away for the summer holidays this year made me quake in my boots! However, that has now all changed and the honeymoon period is over. Our eldest son has started school, so we are joining the ranks of other parents and looking at the half term week for a holiday. I suppose we could always take a detour via Ireland on the way to France to avoid Dover, but even to my warped sense of logic that doesn’t seem a good idea!

Travel to the continent has become a lot easier and cheaper in recent years which has meant more and more pet owners choosing to get their dog (or cat) a pet passport to accompany them on their holidays. Rules and regulations associated with the pet travel scheme have also been relaxed making the whole process much simpler. In order to get a passport all you have to do is have your dog or cat microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. Three weeks after the rabies vaccine has been administered, you can travel. It’s more straightforward on the return leg too – for dogs a tapewormer between 24 and 120 hours before you return to the UK is all that’s required.

The increase in travelling pets does raise concerns regarding diseases and illnesses which can be picked up on the continent, or more seriously transmitted to the local pet population on return to the UK. There is no longer a requirement on the pet travel scheme for dogs and cats to be treated for ticks before they return to the UK. However earlier this year three dogs in Essex, which had never travelled,  were diagnosed with Babesiosis.  Babesiosis is a disease exotic to the UK which is transmitted by ticks and causes serious illness which can be fatal. Lungworm is another previously exotic pathogen which has now become endemic in the UK - Surrey and Sussex being the two most affected areas. Lungworm causes a variety of symptoms including bleeding disorders and can also be fatal.

So, what is the message of this rather gloomy section? While it’s great that pet travel has become more accessible, pet owners need to be aware of the health risks associated with these developments. Many exotic diseases like Babesiosis are transmitted by biting insects such as ticks and biting flies, lungworm is transmitted by eating infected slugs and snails. Prevention of these pathogens is as important as ever and is brought about by either eliminating the intermediate host or by tackling the parasite head on. Ticks, which transmit a variety of diseases, can be prevented using topical spot-ons or impregnated collars. Lungworm is prevented using topical spot-ons or monthly tablets. If your pet is not covered, or you’d like more information, please contact us at the practice.