Hundreds of dogs travel to and from the UK each year and while we have rules to prevent the introduction of Rabies virus and the fox tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis) into the UK, we do not have any regulation that seeks to reduce the risk of exotic disease transmission to pets themselves. Just as people who travel to certain foreign countries need certain vaccines or preventatives, it is equally important to employ similar tactics for your pet when abroad.
Our major concerns when travelling abroad with your dog are the following:
Heartworm, Leishmania, Babesia, Anaplasma, and Ehrlichia.
Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitos, Leishmania by sandflies, and the other diseases by ticks. The time between exposure to the parasite and becoming unwell for some of these diseases can vary from weeks to years and the symptoms themselves can be vague and non-specific. Even with prompt diagnosis and treatment, infection can sometimes result in severely disabling chronic problems or even fatal disease.
It is therefore far better to try and prevent these diseases from being contracted than having to deal with the potential consequences and the simplest strategy is the following:
1. Vaccination against Leishmania - please contact the clinic as the vaccine is vary rarely available in the UK now
2. Prevention of Heartworm
Prevention of Heartworm begins at least 1 month before departure and continues monthly until at least one treatment after returning to the UK. If an animal is currently on monthly lungworm prevention, then is also covered against heartworm. These include: Milpro chewable tablets, Nexgard Spectra chewable tablets, and Advocate spot-on treatment.
3. Prevention of Babesia, Anaplasma, and Ehrlichia
Prevention of Babesia, Anaplasma, and Ehrlichia begins at least 24 hours before departure and continues regularly (monthly or every three months depending on product) until after returning to the UK. If an animal is currently on oral tick prevention, then is also covered against exotic ticks. These include: Bravecto chewable tablets and Nexgard Spectra chewable tablets.
4. Reduce exposure
Reduce exposure to mosquitos, sandflies, and ticks by using a repellent collar (such as Scalibor or Seresto). If possible, don’t walk at dawn or at dusk in warm months (active times for sandflies and mosquitos) as well as try to avoid areas with lots of standing water (breeding grounds for mosquitos) and heavily wooded areas (breeding grounds for ticks).
5. Second treatment with praziquantel for fox tapeworm
Although treatment with praziquantel for fox tapeworm is required for re-entry, APHA guidelines also recommend a second treatment within 28 days after returning to the UK.