Travelling abroad with your pet: precautions against disease


Precautions for dogs travelling abroad

If you are taking your dog abroad there is a risk of him/her picking up diseases which are not normally seen in the United Kingdom. The risks from a short holiday are low but there are some precautions that you should take before and during your holiday to protect your dog.

Please reads the following information regarding the common exotic diseases present in Europe.

If you are travelling to areas affected by these diseases, Dulverton Veterinary Practice will be happy to help you select the appropriate prevention treatments prior to your trip.



Common around the Mediterranean including Spain, Portugal. Southern France, Italy and Greece. This disease causes skin problems, weight loss, lameness and kidney failure. Many of the scruffy looking dogs you see on holiday, especially those with hair loss around the eyes, will have leishmaniasis. Symptoms can often be improved with treatment, but the disease is difficult to cure completely. The disease may not develop for several years after the initial infection.

Leishmanisis is spread by sandflies. Sandflies are mostly found in wooded areas and gardens, and are particularly active at night during the summer months. The best Prevention is to reduce the risk of sandfly bites: do not allow your dog to sleep outdoors at night and use a preventative treatment to repel sandflies.

There is a choice of repellent products which may be purchased in the UK before you travel. One is a collar (Saclibor) which contains deltamerithrin and lasts for 6 months. The other is a spot-on treatment (Advantix) which lasts for 2 weeks. Plug-in insect repellents are also useful to keep the inside of the building insect free for animals and people.

There is also a vaccination available for dogs travelling abroad, which reduces the risk of them contracting Leishmaniasis (dogs that have been vaccinated are 4 times less likely to develop the disease). This vaccination may be given to dogs from 6 months of age. The initial vaccination course consists of three injections, each given three weeks after the previous injection. The onset of immunity is 4 weeks after completing the initial course, so the vaccination course should be started at least 13 weeks before you wish to travel. Afterwards, a single booster should be given every year to maintain immunity.

If you wish your dog to receive this vaccination, please let us know as it will have to ordered in for you.



Common in Australia, America, Spain, Southern France, and Italy. However, with global warming this disease is starting to occur further north, with occasional cases reported as far north as Brittany.

The heart worms live in the heart and large blood vessels, causing heart failure and breathing difficulties. Symptoms are not usually seen for 6-12 months after infection.

Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes. Treatment is based around preventing mosquito bites, and also medication to prevent worms from developing if your dog is infected.

Prevention of mosquito bites can be achieved by using the Scalibor collar or Advantix spot-on, as for preventing bites by sandflies.

The drug which prevent heartworms developing are given monthly, starting before you leave the UK and continuing for a short period after your return. The choice is between a spot-on product (Stronghold) and a tablet (Milbermax). Because heartworm is common in the at-risk areas and is serious and difficult to treat once the worms are in the heart, we recommend that all animals travelling to risk areas are given one of these preventative drugs.



This disease is particulary common in France, but also occurs in most other European countries. Babesia kanis is a parasite that attacks the red blood cells and causes severe anaemia. Babesiosis is spread by ticks and can have a dramatic onset with fatal consequences 2-3 weeks after exposure. It is essential to get an immediate diagnosis and treatment, so if your dog suddenly becomes ill whilst abroad or soon after returning, seek veterinary attention immediately.

In most cases the Babesia parasite is not transmitted to the dog until the tick has been feeding for 24-48 hours. Treatment is based on avoiding ticks, preventing them from biting the dog, and removing them within 24 hours if they do bite the dog.

We recommend : Avoid rough ground and forrests and grazing land. Bravecto tablet (which will last for 3 months), Advantix spot-on (lasting 4 weeks) or a Scalibor collar should be used. These products repel ticks and make them much less likely to attach to your dog. If ticks do attach they are killed by Bravecto & Advantix (but not by Scalibor). Do a thorough groom of your dog every day and check carefully for ticks. Use a tick hook to remove any ticks found as soon as possible (tick hooks are very easy to use and can be purchased at reception).



This disease is seen in all Mediterranean countries. It often causes disease in dogs at the same time as Babesiosis, because it is also transmitted by ticks. Ehrlichiosis is a parasite which infects the white blood cells. Initally it causes a fever. Following this, some dogs recover completely. Other dogs remain infected and develop problems with their immune system and blood clotting system. The best prevention is to stop ticks biting (as with Babesiosis).


Precautions for cats travelling abroad

Cats are also at risk from contracting the above diseases.

Unfortunately, the options for protecting cats are more limited. There are no safe tick or sandfly repellent treatment for cats and no vaccination against Leishmaniasis (fortunately Leishmaniasis is much less common in cats than dogs).

Protecting your cat will involve:

  • Returning cats to the house before dusk (when sandflies become more active).
  • Avoiding access to areas with a high prevalence of ticks (rough ground, forests, grazing areas).
  • Applying Broadline monthly for protection against heartworm as well as roundworms and tapewormes.
  • Bravecto spot on (which will last for 3 months) & Broadline (lasting 4 weeks) will also kill ticks, once they have attached, so that they drop off quicker (usually within 48 hours).
  • Check you cat daily for ticks and remove them using a tick removing hook.

Opening hours

Mon-Fri: 9:00AM - 5:00PM
-by appointment only-
Saturday: 9:00AM - 11:30AM
- by appointment only-

Tue AND Fri: 3:30PM - 4:00PM
- by appoinment only-

TELEPHONE NUMBER: 01398 323285

Good to know

Covid-19 latest

We have received a lot of positive feedback from our clients regarding our appointment system which has been in place since the start of the pandemic. The main advantages of this system other than keeping us all safer, are:
  • no overcrowding of the car park
  • reduced waiting times
  • less stress for the animals
We therefore decided as a practice to stick to our appointment only system and not to return to open surgeries even in a post pandemic environment.


Repeat Prescriptions

We can be extremely busy at times, so if we have seen your pet within the last 6 months, please ring or email us with your request and we will have it ready for you when you arrive. We would also kindly ask you to order flea and tick treatments in advance to minimise waiting times. Thank you. Tel:01398 323285

Please ring us during opening times (9:00am -5:00pm), if possible 24 hours in advance, in case your prescription needs to be ordered in.