Travelling Abroad With Your dog, a Note on Blood Titres and Passports…
As the evidence builds against the gross over-vaccination of our pets, more and more people are asking me for travel advice, specifically on vaccinations when crossing borders.
Currently, pets are required to be dosed up to the eyeballs before they go anywhere, often to a ridiculous degree. Case in point the rabies jab for movement between two rabies free countries, even when that pet has already been vaccinated for rabies. This sort of nonsensical approach stems from the current (and completely unsupported) veterinary philosophy that already vaccinated animals are required to be “boosted” annually for those vaccinations, something that owners are becoming increasingly concerned about.
Needless Annual Boosters Have Side-Effects…
However, evidence is building that needlessly boosting an already vaccinated animal for viruses is not only a waste of time (you do not need to remind a dog’s immune system and more than you need to give an MMR annually to a child, it’s the whole point of a vaccination, nor can you increase immunity, it’s either there or it’s not) but these boosters are having serious health consequences for your pet.
Case in point is a fabulous and well-referenced piece by Dogs Naturally that presents the results of three recent studies, each demonstrating that heavily vaccinated pets can end up creating antibodies to their own collagen leading to a higher likelihood of cruciate tears and joint disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
There are numerous independent studies documenting the side effects of over-vaccinations, ranging from the minor (fever, stiff and sore joints, abdominal tenderness and behavioral changes) to the more serious (increased susceptibility to infections, cancer, neurologic disorders and encephalitis, jaundice, organ failure and collapse with auto-agglutinated red blood cells, hypothyroidism, seizures and hypertrophic osteodystrophy or HOD)
Blood Titres are Clearly the Answer…
Well, one solution for already vaccinated animals (which, let’s face it, is the hefty majority of 16wk old Irish puppies) is a blood titre test. Most of you guys are familiar enough with this process. In short, a vet takes a drop of blood from your pet, checks it to make sure the pet still has antibodies for each virus still floating around in there then hands you a cert saying “immune to X and Y”, which lasts for three years. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?! All for the less than the price of that needless booster. More here.
Blood titres are clearly the answer. They actually test the blood and prove immunity whereas a booster is simply a needless, and likely damaging, shot in the dark. As such, more and more pressure is piling on the powers that be to accept them as proof of immunity, to some success.
Recently dog owners in the UK, led by the formidable Catherine O’Driscoll of Canine Health Concern, the voice of the over-vaccinated nation, have piled on the pressure on authorities and have recently had a major success. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) are now accepting blood titres as proof of immunity against infectious diseases, meaning insurance companies and now, thankfully, UK kennel owners (who have been hamstrung to this point) are free to accept the same.
Leading us all to the customs question…
If the CIEH are now standing over blood titres where does that leave our already vaccinated pets who require a pet passport before travelling which necessarily proves their immunity to certain viruses?
Note: The rabies jab is always needed, even when travelling to the UK, which is rabies free, ridiculous I know. Irish dogs will not have had a rabies jab as part of their puppy regime as there is no rabies in Ireland. However, the thinking would be once you have this jab then for any future trips the blood titre test will verify that it’s in your dog, hopefully eliminating the need to do it again.
The Department of Agriculture are the ones who can provide us with the answer to the pet passport question. As we take most if not all our leads on animal care / welfare from the UK (far be it for the Irish to do anything novel or forward-thinking there), then you’d hope they’re contemplating it.
After many, many tries I eventually got through to a lady in the Department who informed me it’s better to send my questions to email@example.com. This I did. I’m sure they’ve got their best people on it. Will let you know more there soon as I get a response.
I wanted to hear from any of you who have travelled with your pet recently. What has been your experience travelling from Ire – UK or vice versa, or anyone who have travelled further afield. Any tips and tricks you have please comment below and I’ll include them in the article
TRAVELLING TO UK WITH YOUR PET
- You require a pet passport (showing microchip identification and vaccination)
- The rabies vaccination at least 21 days before entry (including for Britain, which is rabies free…)
WHEN COMING BACK TO IRELAND FROM MAINLAND EU WITH YOUR PET
For dogs travelling back into Ireland from mainland EU (not Britain) they will need to be seen by a vet 1-5 days prior to re-entry to be given a tapeworm treatment, and this will need to be recorded on their passport. This is to prevent entry of a specific tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis) into Ireland that is widespread in certain parts of Europe
TRAVELLING WITH YOUR DOG TO NON-EU COUNTRIES
The above (passport, rabies) are the general rules when travelling to non-EU countries that are designated “low-risk”. You can find a list of the low-risk countries here.
DEFRA in the UK state that all that is required is a rabies vaccine for travelling into the UK, which is confusing.
I posted this article to my Facebook page in January. The comments, tips and tricks posted below from peoples’ experiences are worth a read should you be considering a trip.