When 17.4 million people voted to leave and 16.1 million voted to remain in the 2016 EU referendum, pets were probably the last thing on anyone’s mind.
However, three years and three prime ministers later, it’s not entirely going to plan, and the prospect of a no-deal Brexit has not got many tails wagging (seemingly, not even from the prime minister’s rescue dog).
Leaked Operation Yellowhammer documents last month suggest disruptions at the border and issues with supplies entering the UK. All of which has left many dog owners wondering what a no-deal Brexit might mean for travelling with their dog.
Current guidelines for travelling with pets in the EU
According to figures from the PDSA, there are around 8.9 million dogs in the UK. That’s a lot of dog owners who risk having their pet refused entry to the EU if the UK was to end up leaving without a deal.
Currently, dog owners wanting to take their hound on holiday in the EU are able to do so with a pet passport. Advice from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) states that travelling to the EU with your pet will still be possible post-Brexit.
However, charities have raised concerns about what a no-deal Brexit would mean for pet travel. Advice on the gov.uk website states that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the rules for travelling to EU countries with your pet will change.
UK could be downgraded in pet movement system
For the purposes of pet travel within the EU, there are currently three categories: pets from member states or equivalent; pets from listed third countries (such as the US); and pets from unlisted third countries (such as India or China).
If the UK leaves with a deal, it will fall into the listed country category and owners, meaning either have to apply for a new pet passport or official documents for their dog.
But if the UK leaves without a deal it will become an unlisted third country in terms of pet travel, placing it alongside countries with higher rabies incidence, those lacking robust veterinary systems, and countries that have never applied for listed status.
This would mean current pet passports for UK pets to travel around the EU will no longer be valid and dog owners will face more complicated, additional rules on taking pets to Europe.
Make early preparations
So, what would change to pet travel laws in the case of a no-deal Brexit?
If you want to travel with your canine companion after Brexit, you’ll have to be prepared. Advice from the government is that dog owners will need to visit the vet at least four months before they plan to travel so they can start the process and get the right documentation in place.
Additional steps and tests prior to travel
Guidelines issued by DEFRA and the Animal and Plant Health Agency also state that dog owners will have to follow certain steps if they want their pet pooch to travel within the EU.
Those steps include:
1. The dog must be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies before it can travel.
2. It must also have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after its last rabies vaccinations.
3. If the sample is successful you must wait three months from the date the sample was taken before your dog can travel.
If you have your dog’s vaccination history, microchipping date and proof of a successful rabies antibody blood test, you must take your pet to an official vet no more than ten days before travel to get an animal health certificate.
If you are travelling with your pet to the Republic of Ireland, Finland or Malta, your dog will also need to be treated against tapeworm (echinococcus multilocularis) by a vet.
Extra costs for travelling with a dog
According to the British Veterinary Association (BVA), dog owners could be forced to pay up to £150 more than they currently do to travel with their furry friends if we leave the EU without a deal.
The impact on pet medicine and vets
As well as confusion over pet passports, there’s also uncertainty about how Brexit will impact the availability of pet medicine and veterinary workers in the UK.
According to DEFRA, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate is working with the pharmaceutical industry to ensure medicines remain available in the case of no-deal.
A statement from BVA says that the organisation “continues to work with the government, industry bodies and pharmaceutical companies to help ensure continued access to veterinary medicines after [the] UK’s exit from the EU.”
Meanwhile, DEFRA is also working to ensure the number of qualified vets in the UK does not drop after a no-deal Brexit.
There’s a lot to think about before you go abroad with a pet. While the political uncertainty rolls on, you might decide to keep things simple and book a dog-friendly holiday in the UK. A staycation gives you the best of both worlds – a relaxing getaway and the chance to hang out with your dog.
Dog owners love to spend quality time with their faithful friends, but there are times when you have to go away and leave your dog behind. Rather than leaving them in expensive and unfamiliar kennels, why not have a dog sitter take care of them in your own home? Find a dog sitter near you today.
If you have any advice or tips about travelling with your four-legged friends before or after Brexit you’d like to share with other dog owners, we’d love to hear from you.