Increase in pets holding passports

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British dogs are increasingly well travelled, with one in ten owners taking their pet abroad, according to new research from Direct Line Pet Insurance.

Over a third (38 per cent) of British vets have reported an increase in demand for pet passports over the last 12 months, handing out an average 26 dog passports and an average six cat passports in the last 12 months.

For many owners (45 per cent), their dog always influences their choice of holiday destination, with just seven per cent of owners saying their pet never influences where they go away. Pet owners also appear to be enjoying ‘staycations’ with their pets, as 65 per cent claim to have taken their animal on a UK-based ‘petcation’.

Of those that do go abroad with their pet, the most pet friendly destinations dog owners have visited are; the French resorts La Roche and Les Sables, Nantes in Belgium, Antequera, Spain and Lake Lucerne, Switzerland. However, when holidaying abroad dog owners often face difficulties, as three fifths (60 per cent) have been asked to leave shops on account of their pet, while others have been asked to leave restaurants (46 per cent), bars (31 per cent) and even hotels (26 per cent).

The rules when bringing dogs and cats back into the UK are clear. They must have been microchipped, have a pet passport (or third country official veterinary certificate), have been vaccinated against rabies and dogs must also have a tapeworm treatment when returning from a number of different countries. Your pet must also arrive in the UK no more than five days before or after the owner. If owners do not comply with these rules, they risk their pets having to be quarantined when re-entering the UK.

The awareness of these travel requirements among dog owners is widely varied. While owners are extremely aware they have to have their dog microchipped (87 per cent), one in eight (12 per cent) are not aware that their dog has to be treated for tapeworm before returning to the UK, despite it being an official requirement for re-entry.

This is reflected in responses to research from vets which found the three most common things owners going abroad with their pet forget to do are; tape worming treatment (21 per cent), leaving enough time between having the vaccinations and going abroad (nine per cent) and updating the rabies vaccination (eight per cent). Almost one in 10 (eight per cent) vets have treated cases of ticks once pets return from their holiday but one particular vet is still treating a dog for a case of leishmanial, a disease transmitted by the bite of sand flies which can affect the skin and internal organs, years after the dog returned from holiday

Prit Powar, head of pet insurance at Direct Line said: “Our pets are such a big part of our lives that it’s not surprising we are willing to tailor our holidays to accommodate taking them away with us. When taking pets abroad, planning in advance is vital. Owners need to have the right documentation, up to date vaccinations and know that where they are staying is accepting of their pets. Getting a tapeworm treatment in the country you are visiting can often be a particular challenge, especially if you don’t speak the language, so do your research beforehand and make sure you know what facilities are available.”

Dog owners rank a destination with dog friendly accommodation as the most important factor when planning to take their pet abroad (83 per cent), followed by space for their dog to run around and play (69 per cent); somewhere which allows the dog to accompany them into shops, restaurants and attractions (51 per cent) and a destination with a local vet or animal hospital (50 per cent).

Direct Line’s tips for going on holiday with your pet:

· Make sure your pet is healthy and safe to travel;

· Have a pet passport, which can be obtained through your vet;

· Ensure your pet has been microchipped;

· Ensure vaccinations and any flea and worming treatments are up to date;

· Check that your holiday destination has all the facilities your pet needs;

· Make sure there is a vets nearby where you can have your dog treated for tapeworm;

· Do your research beforehand so you know where your pet will be able to visit – i.e. shops, restaurants, bars, attractions, hotels.