Travel, Ticks, Tapeworms and Treatments

Travelling abroad with your pet dog (and in some cases, cat) is great fun for them and you, but there are risks.


A tick

A recent survey, The Big Tick Project, showed that 76% of dogs travelling abroad returned with ticks.  This highlights the real threat of dogs travelling to the Continent coming back with a tick. Ticks have been found to be carrying diseases such as babesiosis which can also infect humans. Babesiosis causes lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite, jaundice, raised temperature and anaemia. It can also affect cats but is less commonly reported. Babesiosis is endemic in mainland Europe but outbreaks have been reported in Essex and Hertfordshire – highlighting the importance of remaining vigilant for ‘exotic’ tick species and associated disease. These reports come from untravelled dogs.

There are other tick born diseases to watch out for too……

Ehrlichiosis produces signs of fever, weight loss, bleeding disorders and nervous problems.

Tick Treatments

So if you are taking your pet abroad it is important he or she is protected. A flea and tick killer is essential and we would recommend a pill rather than a spot on which can be washed off if your pet gets wet. There are pills that last a month but also one that lasts 3 months.

Travel and Brexit

With the Brexit extension, granted in April 2019, existing rules for pet travel are still in place which means that cats, dogs and ferrets from the UK can still travel to all EU countries and some additional countries and return to the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS).

For PETS the pet must have a microchip implanted; be vaccinated for rabies (not before 12 weeks of age); and have a PETS passport. Following the initial rabies vaccination there is a 21-day wait period before the pet can travel (this waiting period doesn’t apply to booster vaccinations).

For dogs only, there is also a requirement for a veterinary certified tapeworm treatment 24-120 hours before return to the UK.

Uncertainty still exists on the likelihood of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, and to keep up to date with the most current Brexit situation visit:

Other diseases which can be caught in Europe


This is a worm that can cause coughing, exercise intolerance and difficulty breathing. It is spread by mosquitoes and sandflies. This disease used to mainly be found in southern Europe but is now spreading to the north-eastern and central European countries.

Prevention is by keeping pets indoors at peak fly feeding times, such as early evening and there are collars that will repell the sandfly and mosquitoes.

A monthly worm pill treats this disease but only some worm pills cover against this parasite, make sure you have the right one.


We all know about this disease which can cause excitability, seizures and paralysis, however the more common form is called dumb rabies and signs include progressive paralysis, distortion of the face and difficulty in swallowing. It is spread by the bite of an infected animal. Vaccination is the best way to prevent this terrrible condition.


This disease is also common in the UK, signs can be vague but can produce acute kidney and liver disease as well as vomiting, bloody diarrhoea and jaundice. These bacteria are viable in soil or water for over 6 months and infection is transmitted through contamination with urine or eating infected mice/rats etc.

Prevention is by vaccination. There are different strains of letpospirosis on the continent so make sure your pet is vaccinated appropriately.


Leishmaniasis is a disease which kills over 65,000 people each year globally and is being seen with increasing frequency in the UK in travelled dogs. It less commonly affects cats. This year there have also been cases of leishmaniasis diagnosed in untravelled dogs within the UK.

Clinical signs are ulcers, arthritis, anorexia and bleeding. Sandflies are the only known way this disease is spread. To reduce the risk of dogs developing this disease various things can be done;

  1. Reduce the chance of the dog being bitten by sandflies and contracting the infection by using a special treated collar..
  1. Vaccination can also be carried out against this disease.

Echinococcus (tapeworm)

This is a very serious disease and infectious to humans too, it is found in dogs and foxes and spread by small rodents. Dogs rarely get clinical signs but it can cause serious disease in humans. This disease is not in the UK but is present in Europe. Prevention is by worming and returning dogs have to have a veterinary-certified tapeworm treatment 24-120 hours prior to embarkation back to the UK. The disease can take one month to develop so we recommend monthly treatment whilst abroad and also one month after returning to the UK.


It is important to consult your vet well in advance of travel but we also recommend a post-travel check on return from holiday. This allows pets to be checked for ticks and to ensure adequate worming treatment is given 1 month post-travel.


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