As UK holidaymakers look forward to the annual summer getaway and travelling abroad, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has warned globetrotters to take care their pets don't pick up worms and other parasites on holiday.
The warning comes on World Veterinary Day (WVD, 25th April 2015), a day that celebrates vets across the globe and the contribution they make to human and animal health. The WVD theme for 2015 is vector-borne diseases with zoonotic potential - diseases that can be transmitted from one animal to another, including from animals to humans, often by biting insects such as mosquitoes
Such diseases include leishmaniasis, an infectious disease transmitted by sandflies, occurring commonly in Mediterranean coastal areas. The most common symptoms of the disease include skin inflammation and infection. If left untreated the disease is fatal in pets. The disease is also zoonotic, which means that it can be passed on to humans although there has never been a reported case of dog to human transmission in the UK. The good news is that owners can take precautions against leishmaniasis and the condition can be treated.
Other diseases that may infect pets when they travel abroad and cause serious health issues include:
BVA's own animal welfare charity, the Animal Welfare Foundation, has a handy pre-travel check list available for pet owners planning their holiday. The key piece of advice is:
- See your vet at least three weeks ahead of travel, so you can:
- Discuss with your vet the countries you intend to travel to and what specific health risks your pet may be exposed to
- Get a clinical examination to make sure your pet is fit to travel
- Check that rabies vaccinations and pet passports are up to date
- Ensure the microchip is working properly
- Discuss preventative treatments to protect your pet against ticks, sandflies, heartworm and tapeworm while abroad
- Get the most effective medication for your pet and be shown how to administer it
BVA President John Blackwell said:
"Owners need to take precaution when travelling abroad with their pets. We certainly do not want to discourage loved pets having fun with their owners and families on holiday. But people do need to be aware of the health risks to their pets if they pick up unwanted bugs on their travels. Some of these diseases are very serious.
"The good news is that early intervention can treat many of these diseases and prevent the worst from happening, although there may be long term health implications for the animal. The even better news is there are clear precautions owners can take if they plan ahead. The best cure here is prevention and the best way to plan for a happy trip without nasty parasites hitching a lift is to consult your vet as early as possible before you travel with your pet."
The Animal Welfare Foundation's 'Taking Your Pets Abroad' leaflet is available here.