The rules of the Pet Travel Scheme changed on the 1st January 2012. When taking your dog abroad on the new Pet Travel Scheme, there is still a risk of your dog picking up some diseases that are not normally seen in the UK or in the Channel Islands.
The risk during a short break is very small but there are some precautions that you should take both before, during and sometimes after you return from holiday to protect you and your dog.
The risk of Rabies has reduced dramatically in recent years due to better vaccines. However, there is a small risk of your dog contracting other exotic diseases present in Europe and other parts of the world that are listed below and so it is best to know about these diseases and discuss their prevention with your vet well in advance of taking your pet abroad on holiday.
The tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis is found all over most of Europe and in other foreign countries. Foxes and domestic dogs are the natural hosts for the adult stage of this tapeworm. The adult tapeworm lives in the gut of the dog, fox or other members of the dog family. The head of the tapeworm attaches to the gut wall and then produces hundreds of eggs that are shed in the dog’s faeces, Wild rodents such as mice serve as the intermediate host. Eggs swallowed by rodents develop in the liver, lungs and other organs to form multiple cysts and infect dogs and foxes. People can become an intermediate host by handling infected animals and can be infected by swallowing the tapeworm eggs. The disease can be very serious in people.
This disease is caused by protozoan species of Leishmania and is common around the Mediterranean including Spain, Portugal, southern France, Italy and Greece. The disease can be chronic or recurrent and causes weight loss, skin and eye lesions, lameness and enlarged lymph nodes. The disease can be treated, but is difficult to cure completely and may not develop for up to 6 years after the initial infection. Leishmaniasis is spread by the Phlebotomine sandflies that are mostly found in wooded areas and gardens – NOT on beaches and will be active at any time of the day from May to October.
This disease is caused by Dirofilaria immitis and is common in Australia, America, Asia, Japan, Italy, Spain and southern France but could spread further to the northern coast of France with global warming. Heartworms live in the heart and large blood vessels, causing heart failure and breathing problems. Symptoms are not generally seen for about 6 to 12 months after infection. The disease is spread by mosquitoes. Treatment in countries where the disease is endemic is based around mosquito control, and also preventative medication to stop dogs getting infected.
Babesiosis caused by species of Babesia and is seen throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North America. It is a parasite of the blood causing anaemia due to the destruction of the red blood cells giving symptoms of pale mucus membranes, jaundice, weakness, fast breathing, red urine, collapse and occasionally death. The disease can come on suddenly and can be fatal affecting dogs 2 to 3 weeks after exposure to infected ticks, so it is essential to get prompt veterinary diagnosis and treatment. To become infected, ticks need to feed on the host for 24 to 48 hours. Prevention is based on avoiding ticks from biting your dog and removing them within 24 hours.
Ehrlichiosis is seen in all Mediterranean countries and causes disease in dogs caused by Ehrlichia canis and is also transmitted by ticks. Ehrlichiosis is a parasite that infects the white blood cells. Initially, it causes a fever 1 to 3 weeks after infection and some dogs may recover completely. Other dogs remain infected and can develop problems with their immune and blood clotting systems.
Lyme disease is endemic in the UK and Europe, USA and other parts of the world and is caused by an organism called Borelia burgdorferi that is transmitted by ticks. The disease has not be recorded in Guernsey. The main host for Lyme disease are Deer but dogs, cattle, horses, people and other animals can be infected as well if they are bitten by a tick infected with the organism that is spread via the bloodstream and causes the disease in about 4 weeks after initial infection. In dogs symptoms can include: Lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, arthritis involving one or more joints and swollen lymph nodes.Treatment is with antibiotics.