What additional vaccinations might your dog need if you intend to take them to mainland Europe?

What additional vaccinations might your dog need if you intend to take them to mainland Europe?

Health & Safety

Most dog owners know that if you want to take your dog on holiday to mainland Europe with you and be able to cross back and forth to the UK with your dog quickly and efficiently without the need for quarantine or delays, your dog needs a pet passport.

The pet passport scheme for pets provides your dog with a travel document to identify them and allow them to travel from country to country across the areas that use the scheme. In order to get a pet passport, your dog needs to be vaccinated against rabies, and they must be treated by approved flea and worming products following a certain schedule to be allowed to travel too.

Without a pet passport, your dog won’t be able to move freely with you and they may have to be quarantined upon re-entry to the UK – and whilst we don’t know yet what effect the impending Brexit will have on the pet passport scheme and how it works, the pet passport itself is currently the scheme under which the movement of pets with their owners within the EU is managed.

However, the requirements for dogs to be issued with a pet passport (such as rabies vaccination and blood tests) only cover the legal requirements to permit your dog to travel abroad, and depending on where you are travelling to, other vaccinations may be advisable as well.

Different countries often face different threats when it comes to the types of contagious conditions that are considered to be a threat to dogs, and here in the UK we vaccinate against the main conditions that we face here.

If you intend to travel to the EU with your dog, it is a good idea to find out if there are any contagious conditions found within your destination country (or those you will pass through on the way) that could affect your dog, and which can be vaccinated against.

This enables you to discuss the options with your vet in the UK before you travel and if necessary, have your dog vaccinated to ensure that they are protected before you go.

In this article we will outline some of the health conditions that you might want to have your dog vaccinated against or treated for before or during travel abroad, which are not included within the usual UK dog vaccination packages. Read on to learn more.


Whilst we have had a few diagnosed cases of heartworm in dogs in the UK, this condition is uncommon here are so, it isn’t one that we commonly protect against as standard.

Heartworm is a type of parasitic worm that sets up home in your dog’s heart, and which is often asymptomatic for many months after infection but that ultimately leads to respiratory distress and heart failure.

Heartworm is spread by mosquitos, and because it is a parasite, it is not something that there is a vaccine for, but preventative medications can be used in dogs to kill heartworms before they reproduce and cause problems for the dog. This is recommended if you are visiting a country or region where mosquitos are commonly a problem, like some areas of Southern France.

Using a dog-safe mosquito repellent for your dog as well as your family while you are away is a good idea too.


Leishmania is a chronic health condition that is spread by sand flies, and which can affect dogs that visit areas where sand flies are common, such as around areas of the coast in the Mediterranean.

Leishmania in dogs leads to chronic lameness and enlarged lymph nodes, as well as causing loss of weight and condition and a plethora of other problems, such as infections of the skin and eyes. Leishmania in dogs can be very debilitating and a full recovery is not always possible even with treatment, but you can protect your dog against it by explaining your dog’s travel plans to your vet and requesting the vaccination that is available for it.

You should also use a dog-safe sand fly repellent while you’re away with your dog, and keep them away from shady areas and woodlands at dusk and dawn, when sand flies tend to be more prolific.


Brucellosis vaccination prior to travel is a good idea if you’re taking your dog to a country where there are lots of wild or stray dogs, as brucellosis is a contagious health condition that is spread from infected dams to their offspring, and to other dogs via contact with bodily fluids from infected dogs.

Brucellosis is also zoonotic and can be transmitted to people as well, so bear this in mind if you come into contact with wild or stray dogs during your travels.


Fleas, worms and other parasites are of course common in dogs all across the EU, and we treat our dogs in the UK for such problems already, and doing so is also mandated within the pet passport scheme.

However, parasites outside of the UK often carry different diseases to those that our UK-based pests do, including a number of tick-borne illnesses including hepatozoonosis, tick-borne encephalitis, and ehrlichiosis that we don’t have to contend with here.

Regularly treating your dog for ticks and fleas whilst abroad is wise, and you should where possible avoid taking your dog walking in areas where ticks are rife. After walks, always check your dog over for ticks and remove any you find quickly and safely, and monitor your dog for any signs of illness.



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