Archive for the ‘Pet Travel’ Category

What Does Brexit Mean For Travel with your Dog or Cat?

What does Brexit mean for pet travel?

Quite a lot…. so if you plan to travel with your pet out of the UK to anywhere in the world (and/or back again), after 29th March 2019, then you need to consider the implications of a (potential) no-deal Brexit. The government has just published advice regarding what might happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This blog is about the advice itself and also the practical advice to avoid any worst-case scenarios. International travel with pets can be very stressful, without adding the uncertainty of Brexit.

Defra is responsible for pet travel to both the EU and the rest of the world from the UK. Pet travel to the EU is currently controlled by EU law, under the assumption that the UK is an EU country. Pet travel from non-EU countries to the UK and the EU is governed by a set of rules that are different for ‘listed’ and ‘non-listed’ countries.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, it is likely that the UK will immediately become a ‘non-listed’ country for the purposes of pet travel, if only because there will be no ‘deal’ on the movement of pets across the channel or to the Republic of Ireland. The UK is currently trying to negotiate to become a listed country on the day we leave the EU, but that may not happen, especially in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

So what would it mean for pet travel between the EU and the UK if the UK were to become an unlisted country?

 Pet Travel to the EU from the UK after a no-deal Brexit:

  • pet passports may become invalid for this journey
  • owners travelling with their pets to the EU would almost certainly require a 3rd country certificate which would need to be issued each time they travel, both in English and in the language of the country to which they are travelling. This certificate is valid for 10 days after the completion of the certificate by an Official Veterinarian for travel from the UK to the EU and then for 4 months for travel within the EU. It can be filled in in English.
  • As now, pets would need first a microchip, then a rabies vaccination.
  • However, they would almost certainly require a rabies blood test, at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination. Most rabies vaccinations recommend a course of two rabies vaccinations (2-3 weeks apart) before doing the blood test, so the 30 days starts from the date of the second rabies vaccination. The Rabies Blood Test would have to be sent to an EU approved laboratory. It is not clear whether UK laboratories currently approved will maintain their approval after departure from the EU.
  • Pets would not be able to travel to the EU until 3 months after the date of the blood test. This 3-month wait does not apply if the blood test is taken and documented within the EU, so this 3-month wait likely applies only if the blood test is taken (and documented) in the UK after March 29th. This would mean at least a 4 month wait from the start of preparation until your pet is ready for travel, possibly longer if a full Rabies vaccination course is required (ie. with dogs who have never had a rabies vaccination before).
  • Rabies vaccination would need to be maintained within the validity date or else the blood test would need to be repeated.
  • When entering Finland, Sweden, Malta or Norway, pets would need to be treated for Tapeworm 24-120 hours before the scheduled time of entry (this is not currently required if travelling directly).
  • Pets would only be able to enter the EU through a traveller’s port of entry designated by member states.

The UK is campaigning for the UK to become a listed country immediately after Brexit, in which case either (1) the same rules as now will apply with full use of the pet passport in both directions or (2) although the rabies blood test would not be required, a separate third country certificate would be needed for travel to the EU each time you travel.

Pet Travel from the EU to the UK

It appears that the same rules as currently apply will continue to apply. These are:

  • a pet passport
  • microchip and rabies vaccination
  • 3 week wait after the rabies vaccination
  • tapeworm treatment 24-120 hours before the scheduled time of entry to the UK (dogs only)
  • entry through the UK’s travellers’ ports of entry.

It is likely that any entry to the UK immediately after a no-deal Brexit may be somewhat chaotic due to the increased work-load at any UK border.

Pet Travel to the UK from the EU In the Longer Term

This is completely open at the moment, but it is likely that the UK will tighten up the rules to reduce the risks of importing disease. Changes may include

  • a return for the need for tick treatment before entering the UK (this is currently recommended, but doesn’t need to be certified by a vet)
  • the window for tapeworm treatment may be shortened from the current window of 1-5 days to 24-48 hours prior to re-entry and re-introduction for cats.
  • a possible return for the need for rabies blood testing
  • further testing for other infectious diseases may be introduced for dogs from countries where those diseases are endemic
  • stricter animal welfare requirements
  • a possible increase in the minimum age of import

(this list is not exhaustive)

Our Recommendations if you plan to travel to or from the EU with your pet after Brexit

As you can see, the rules may be considerably tighter than they are at the moment. If you plan to travel with your pet to the EU after March 29, it would be worth considering either moving the date forward, so that you travel before the UK leaves the EU, or else arranging for your pet to have a blood test well in advance of the Brexit date, in line with the EU rules for non-listed countries. Rabies blood tests generally take a week or two to get the results as they are not run daily, but there may be delays due to high demand, so be aware. If you plan to return to the UK after the Brexit date, it may be worth waiting until the rules for return become clear, and we would recommend making alternative plans just in case, such as pet care in the UK in the case that travel with pets becomes very difficult. Note that demand for pet sitters will probably become more acute than usual during the period immediately after Brexit, which coincides with the Easter school holidays. We would generally not recommend making plans to enter the UK from the EU with pets immediately after the Brexit date, especially if a no-deal Brexit becomes likely.

If a deal is reached, then the transition period will apply, so it is likely in that scenario that the current rules will apply throughout the transition period in both directions. The longer-term rules depend on any deal between the UK and the EU.

Pet Travel from the UK to Non-EU Countries after Brexit

If you plan to travel to a non-EU country after Brexit in the case of a no-deal Brexit, you may also be affected.

Currently, the UK has agreements with most countries regarding those countries’ requirements for entry of animals from the UK. These agreements, which are based in EU law, are used to create an export health certificate (EHC) that accompanies each animal travelling out of the UK to each of those countries. Defra will need to re-negotiate the wording for every EHC it has for each country. There is a significant likelihood that at least some of these EHCs for pet travel are not going to be ready in time for March 29th, although they may be ready for some countries. In any event, due to a significant increase in the volume of EHCs (mainly for other purposes), lead times in receiving EHCs may be significantly longer after application to Defra.

There is one significant country which does not require an EHC to receive pets from the UK- the United States. If you travel with your pet to the United States, you will need a Veterinary Surgeon’s certificate to say that your pet is fit for travel and to ensure that you fulfill the requirements of the state you are travelling to (as determined by that state’s Department of Agriculture)- this is usually a Rabies vaccination, up to a month prior to travel. There is a good chance that this will not change after Brexit, even in the event of no-deal.

Our Recommendations for Pet Travel to Non-EU Countries after Brexit

If you plan to travel out of the UK with your pet to a non-EU country after March 29th, then we would advise first to speak to Defra about their preparedness regarding the required EHC. If they are not ready, and you must travel, then if you can, we would recommend bringing the export date forward to before the Brexit date. If you have no other option, and you must travel after March 29th, then you will need to stay in close contact with Defra regarding the timing of readiness for the required EHC. Plans will need to be made in close consultation with a vet who is experienced in preparing pets for export. Timings are sometimes critical for parts of the preparation for EHC so that may be difficult to arrange if you are not sure of the exact date of export. You will also need to make contingency plans because it is possible that regulations and requirements for export and import may change at short notice.

Pet Travel to the UK from Non-EU Countries after Brexit

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, it is likely that the same rules as now will apply. However, if you plan to travel to the UK with your pet after Brexit date, then please contact Defra, in addition to speaking to the British Embassy in your own country, and your own vet. One quite serious issue to take into consideration is the possibility of a hold up in releasing your pet after arrival in the UK due to the increased workload at the traveller’s ports of entry. This may have significant animal welfare implications especially in the case of older or more vulnerable pets. We recommend making alternative plans just in case there are issues with pet travel to the UK immediately after Brexit.


It may take months if not longer, to iron out the issues associated with pet travel in the event of a no-deal Brexit. If you have plans that involve pet travel abroad any time next year, now is the time to think about what additional requirements may be, and what to do if you cannot travel as planned.


This blog is written by a vet, not a lawyer. We highly recommend making back up plans in the event that your pet’s travel is delayed after Brexit.

The Benefits of Crate Training

We highly recommend that all dogs are crate trained. Crate-training offers a number of benefits including:

  • crate training enables house training, leading to less accidents for a shorter period of time.
  • dogs which are crate trained are actually comforted by being in their own enclosed space, so that:
    • the crate provides a ‘safe’ place during noisy events such as fireworks
    • the crate enables stress-free and danger-free travel in the car or in aeroplanes
    • cages are comforting and not scary, which minimises stress during hospitalisation or after injury
    • it provides an out-of-the-way bed for your dog which can be useful when you are away for short periods of time.

Far from being cruel, we would say that it is very kind to crate train your dog, as there will definitely be times in your dog’s life when they will be less stressed by having the benefit of crate training. We see it in our hospital again and again where dogs which are crate trained sleep happily, whereas other dogs can be quite stressed.

A dog sleeping peacefully in his crate.

A dog sleeping peacefully in his crate.

How To Crate Train Your Puppy

The most important thing to remember is that a crate should actually be quite small, so that your puppy can easily get up and turn around in the crate, but not move away from any mess that it makes in the cage. You can buy crates which have a moveable divider in them, so that the cage can grow with your puppy, avoiding the need to buy multiple cages as your dog grows.

Secondly, when house training your dog, avoid a super absorbent mattress/ floor covering in the crate (such as a ‘vet bed’). It is better that your dog is aware of any wetness in the crate, so that it has some incentive to avoid urinating in the crate. If your dog is adult, and already house trained, then you can use any type of bedding.

A small puppy should be put in the crate at night after giving it a chance to go to the loo (toilet) before bed. Most puppies would need one middle-of-the-night break, and then should be able to last until morning. We recommend putting a toy or device playing white noises (such as those available for babies) outside the crate (and out of reach of the puppy) to soothe your puppy, especially the first few nights.

Puppies will realise that they don’t want to urinate in their own bed and will generally hold off (if they can) until let out. You can then take your pup to a safe place to toilet (in your presence) and then give lots of praise when your pup goes in the right place.

Puppies can also be left in the crate for short periods of time during the day, but we recommend avoiding long periods of time when your pup could get bored. In confining your pet, you will be in control of when it toilets and can then praise it for doing the right thing, leading to rapid training.

It is important that the crate is not left open when you are not there (in the toilet training phase) as

Never ever punish or shout at your puppy for making a mistake. This will not help with training at all, and may hinder it as your pup may avoid toileting in your presence, thereby making it difficult to praise your pup for doing the right thing!

Puppies are very adaptable, and a puppy trained in this way will quickly learn to see the crate as a comforting place to be, which will set your puppy up for life. Many owners feel happier if the puppy is close to them at night, and a crate allows this. At the same time it allows you to move your pup away or downstairs when settled, whilst still maintaining a familiar and safe environment after the move.

An English Bulldog puppy eats in its crate

An English Bulldog puppy eats in its crate

Crate Training an Adult Dog

Adult dogs can also be crate trained for the purposes of having a comfortable and comforting safe place, or if you need to re- house train your adult dog, which is not uncommon.

We would recommend using Adaptil spray, collars or infusers to help your dog relax and therefore learn more quickly. Adapted is a canine pheromone product which will help your dog to feel safer. Introduce Adaptil at least a few days prior to introducing the crate.

With adult dogs, you want your dog to chose to go into the crate, so leave the door open and put your dog’s food in the crate. If your dog will not eat in the crate, put it as close as your dog will go to eat the food without getting stressed. Feed your dog every time in or near the crate, moving the food closer to the crate in small steps until your dog is completely happy eating in each position. You are aiming to have your dog eating in a completely relaxed way inside the crate. It is important that you never force your dog into the crate. If your dog is reluctant to go into the crate, it may help to leave a few treats in the crate during the day.

Once your dog is comfortable eating meals in the crate, you can move the food bowl outside of the crate, but then move your dog’s bed into or near the crate, and put some treats on the bed. If your dog will not get into the bed in the crate, put the bed near the crate (with treats) and then gradually move it closer, taking cues from your dog with regards to being relaxed with each step. You are aiming for your dog to sleep quite happily inside the crate. Once your dog is relaxed and happy sleeping inside the crate, the next step is to gently close the door and shut your dog inside the crate for short periods of time. You can then gradually increase the periods with the door shut (especially overnight). Once your dog is happy being in the crate for longer periods of time, you are successful! We would recommend leaving your dog’s crate out in an unobtrusive spot as a permanent bed. You do not always have to shut the door but this should be repeated from time to time so that your dog is reminded that it is ok to be shut into the crate.

Crate Training for Pet Travel

If you are travelling with your pet, particularly if travelling abroad, then you should start crate training as soon as possible once you know you might or will need to travel.

You will need to buy a specialised crate for air travel (available from pet travel companies) which meets international welfare guidelines. These crates are often larger than standard crates. We recommend you use this crate for training, and reproduce the conditions your pet will be travelling in for training, including the bedding.

We recommend use of Adaptil both prior to and during travel (the collars work well).

Sedation during travel is not recommended as it may not be safe. However, you can also start to expose your dog to noises which are similar to those on an aircraft (by playing MP3s), starting softly and gradually getting louder, making sure your dog is comfortable at each level as you increase the noise. Dogs will also travel better if they are used to being separated from you for periods of time. If your dog suffers from travel sickness, then speak to us about medication to reduce nausea, which will also help.

Young dogs will generally travel better than older dogs. Dogs that have cognitive decline/ dementia will have the most trouble, as they will have difficulty learning and will struggle with even small changes. Dementia is not uncommon in older dog. There are supplements available to help support brain function in older dogs, which needs to be given for at least 6 weeks to see results. Older dogs which have travelled when young, and were comfortable with it, will travel better than dogs who have never travelled.

Please speak to us if you have any further questions regarding crate training on 02077510182.