While the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) has made it easy for owners to take dogs and cats (and ferrets) abroad, for a first-time traveller, meeting the requirements of the scheme can seem daunting. From making sure vaccinations are up to date, to understanding health problems to look for and what is required on return to the UK, there is a lot to get right. Failing on one element could result in a disappointing, or even cancelled, trip.
Trip advice checklist
With owners coming to you to organise the pet passport side of things, you are in the ideal position to advise clients travelling overseas of what to do and what to expect. So, once you have covered the basics of microchip-check, rabies vaccination and passport, what else can you do to ensure their trip abroad goes smoothly?
1. Explain compulsory flea and worm treatment
One aspect of using PETS that can be overlooked is the need to give the pet worm and flea treatment no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (five days) before coming back to the UK. Without an official stamp to prove this from a vet in the country they are travelling back from (with few exceptions), the pet will not be allowed back into the UK (gov.uk, 2018).
Anecdotally, the cost for these treatments increases the closer the vet is located to the port. Whether this is the case or not, owners can make this aspect of compliance easier by identifying an English-speaking vet in a convenient location before travel.
2. Advise on diseases and prevention
It can be life-saving to make owners aware of specific dangers and diseases to look out for while overseas, and what can be done to minimise the risks.
Mosquitoes, sandflies and ticks are the most common sources that pass diseases to pets while on holiday, even at locations as close as France. Babesiosis, Echinococcus multilocularis, ehrlichiosis, heartworm and leishmaniasis – together with, most recently in the news, the deadly encephalitis, which is carried by the brown dog tick or kennel tick – are all threats.
The importance of tick treatment cannot be overemphasised. Compulsory tick treatment was actually removed from PETS in 2012, yet in 2017, a study by the Big Tick Project (University of Bristol, 2018) found that 76 percent of dogs returning to the UK were carrying ticks.
Other threats include Thelazia callipaeda – an eye worm that can cause blindness – and the potential for anaphylaxis and necrosis of the tongue from pine processionary moth caterpillars.
Ensure you and your team are always up to date with evolving risks, preventative care and treatments to pass on as much information as possible to your clients. Visit the ESCCAP website for more advice.
3. Pet insurance
Many owners aren’t aware that their pet insurance policy might not automatically cover their pet while they are overseas, or that usual cover may be restricted while they are out of the country.
Agria’s policies give owners the choice of whether to include “overseas travel” within their policy. This way, owners that don’t travel with their pets don’t pay for cover they don’t need, while those that do take their pets abroad can add this benefit at any point in the policy year, and enjoy the same comprehensive cover they would get in the UK for up to 120 days.
Overseas travel from Agria also covers emergency expenses – for example, the costs involved with replacing a lost pet passport while on holiday.
Always advise your clients to carefully check the details of their pet insurance cover before they travel. Should an accident or illness happen while overseas and without adequate pet insurance, the full cost of treatment would be down to the owner, which could, in many circumstances, exceed the cost of the whole holiday.
Talking your clients through this checklist will help them to prepare and have a happy, healthy holiday with their pet.