Crufts 2019


Contact Heathrow Veterinary Services for your dog’s travel documentation requirements.  Find us at Heathrow Airport or phone 020 369 14 622.

EU pet travel after Brexit

This is a developing situation and updates are frequent.  We endeavour to keep this page up-to-date, and the information here is correct as of November 2019, but please don’t hesitate to contact us if you require further assistance

The UK’s exit from the European Union has been delayed until 31st January 2020 or until a deal is reached, whichever is sooner.  Until this point, pets will continue to be able to travel to the EU using their current EU pet passport.  After the UK’s exit from the EU the rules for the travel and transport of pets will change, but the exact rules in force after this date are not yet known.

Official vets have been briefed by the government to prepare for the ‘worst-case scenario’, which is that the UK is treated by the EU as an “unlisted third country”.  This will mean that pet passports issued in the UK would no longer be valid for travel after the date of the UK’s exit, and the following steps – a process taking at least four months – would be required for pets to travel to an EU country:

  • Microchip and, on or after the date of microchipping, a rabies vaccination
  • 30 days after the rabies vaccination, a blood test (sent to an EU-approved laboratory) showing that the vaccine produced a protective antibody response. (If the blood test did not demonstrate a sufficient antibody response, another vaccine – and another 30 day wait before another blood test – is required until a successful test result is recorded)
  • A mandatory three month wait after the date of a successful blood sample
  • Within ten days of travel, an Official Veterinarian must issue an official Animal Health Certificate, written in both English and the language of the destination country
  • Owners must complete an official declaration confirming the non-commercial nature of the movement.  Rules for the commercial movement of animals will differ
  • The Official Veterinarian must create a tamper-proof document including the Animal Health Certificate, owner’s declaration, and certified copies of the vaccination card and rabies blood test report
  • The pet may then enter the EU through a designated ’Point of Entry’ within ten days from date of certificate issue

Current EU pet passport

We expect that pets who, before the UK’s exit from the EU, have already had a rabies blood test (and whose rabies vaccines have been kept up-to-date since) would not need a repeat blood test.  They would, however, still need to ensure a three-month wait from the date of blood testing, and need an Animal Health Certificate issued by an Official Veterinarian within ten days of travel.

For subsequent trips into EU countries, as long as rabies vaccinations have been kept up-to-date (usually once every three years, but individual vaccines may differ) then the original rabies blood test result can be used.  However a new Animal Health Certificate, completed by an Official Veterinarian, would be required in the ten days before every entry into the EU.

Although UK-issued official Health Certificates would allow entry into the EU for ten days after issue, they could be used for re-entry back into the UK for up to four months (and for four months of onward travel within the EU).  The UK would continue to accept EU pet passports for entry from the EU into the UK, via approved routes.  As at present, pets entering the UK from most EU countries would require a vet to treat for the Echinococcus multilocularis tapeworm between one and five days before returning to the UK; this would be recorded on the same UK-issued Animal Health Certificate.

While this is the ‘worst case’ scenario we have been briefed to prepare for, exact requirements will depend on the agreement reached with the EU.  Rules for the commercial movement of pets, for example for sale, will differ from the above.

At Heathrow Vets our government-approved Official Veterinarians are able to help you through every step of the process: we can provide microchipping and rabies vaccinations, rabies blood testing, and official Animal Health Certificates. For those pets visiting Europe for short trips, of fewer than five days, we can also administer tapeworm treatments to avoid the need for an extra visit to the vet abroad.

Remember that the full process may take at least four months, so contact us for advice if you plan to travel this year.


Travelling to South Africa


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Please note that the information here is only a guide and may be subject to change or may not apply to your situation. We recommend you employ a reputable pet shipper to assist with travel arrangements and pre-export requirements for your pet.

Where to start?

All dogs and cats travelling to South Africa must be identifiable by a microchip. This must conform to the ISO 11784/11785 standard. Your pet may arrive through either Cape Town, Johannesburg (O.R. Tambo) or Durban International airports. They must travel as manifest cargo.

An import permit will need to accompany your pets to South Africa. This can be obtained from the website

Rabies vaccination 30 days or more prior to travel to South Africa is recommended (but not compulsory) as rabies is present in South Africa and by law, cats and dogs are required to be vaccinated against the disease. If everything is in order then you pet will not have to complete a quarantine period if originating from the UK.


In preparation for your dog’s journey to South Africa, they will need to have a series of blood tests within 30 days of flight. The number of tests will depend on whether your dog was born in the UK or if they originated from another country. From the date of testing, your dog will need to have a treatment for heartworm and this treatment will need to be repeated monthly for 6 months after arriving in South Africa as they do not have access to Heartworm prevention drugs that we do in the UK. Your vet will need to dispense this course of treatment for you to travel with.

Within 10 days of flight, an Export Health Certificate will need to completed by an Official Veterinarian in the UK.

A monthly worming program for your pet is recommended while residing in South Africa to prevent against roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and Spirocerca lupi infection. More information can be found at the South African Veterinary Association website;

Travelling to Australia



Please note that the information here is only a guide and may be subject to change or may not apply to your situation. We recommend you employ a reputable pet shipper to assist with travel arrangements and pre-export requirements for your pet.

Travelling to Australia:

Where to start?

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture website is the best starting point for anyone considering importing their pets to Australia. From here, the import requirements are laid out in a clear and detailed program. Remember to read the requirements very carefully and to ensure that you have accurate records of treatments and tests each step of the way. You will need to apply for an import permit and have tests and treatments performed by an Official Veterinarian for them to be valid. All dogs and cats will need to undergo a 10 day quarantine at a facility in Australia and this will also need to be booked in advance. The whole process usually takes at least 6 months. Given the complexity, using an experienced pet shipper can take away a lot of the hassles and pitfalls. You will probably be making frequent trips to your veterinarian for treatments and testing and so we recommend you advise them of your intended travel plans as soon as you decide to travel and ensure there is an Official Veterinarian on staff.

Crate specifications will need to be consistent with the IATA’s guidelines and there may be further requirements in place with the airline you choose. For example, certain breeds may require more room (snub-nosed) or special materials.

For further info, head to the following website

Travelling to the USA



Please note that the information here is only a guide and may be subject to change or may not apply to your situation. We recommend you employ a reputable pet shipper to assist with travel arrangements and pre-export requirements for your pet.

Travelling to the USA:

Where to start?

Chat to your veterinarian about your intended travel plans and determine if your pet will be healthy to make the journey.

Microchips are not mandatory for travel to the United States however we highly recommend having a microchip implanted for the purposes of identification and potential future travel.

The United Kingdom is on the list of rabies-free countries and therefore pets that have lived in the UK 6 months prior to arrival in the US or since birth are exempt from rabies vaccination, although some airlines may require it. Keep in mind that the US is not rabies-free and it would be wise to vaccinate your pet for their protection against the disease. In addition, following importation, all dogs are subject to state and local vaccination or health certificate requirements. Pets may travel from 12 weeks of age however the earliest age rabies vaccination can be administered is 12 weeks.

  • A vaccination card should have the following details on it:
    Name and address of the Owner
    Name of the pet
    Any identifying features – eg breed, coat colour, sex, if neutered or spayed and microchip number
    Vaccination manufacturer, name, batch number and expiry date, booster due date
    Veterinarian’s signature and practice details

Prior to departure, a veterinarian will need to complete a veterinary health certificate or fit to fly certificate.

Consult the following website for more detailed information.


Packing for Pets


Dog with a view

We all know how stressful it can be to pack up your belongings whether it is to move house, countries or even that long-awaited family holiday. Here is a simple checklist to ensure you don’t forget to pack Fido’s suitcase. (This list may not apply to each situation or destination and there may be customs regulations limiting the carriage of food/leather items etc into a country so its always best to check these prior to travel).

On the day:

It might be an idea to take your pet out for the day if movers are coming in to pack up your home or if you are packing for a shorter holiday then perhaps ask a friend to have your pet over for a play date while you are packing up your things.

Make sure they have lots of exercise before they settle into their crate for the journey and a light meal 5-6 hours before with free access to water up until that point and throughout their journey.

What to pack:

  • Pet tags – make sure these are updated with a phone number that you can be contacted by while overseas.
  • Microchip – your pet will almost certainly have a microchip implanted before they travel however don’t forget to make sure the database has your current details and if you are relocating permanently, make sure the microchip database can accommodate your new details or suggest a local database that you can transfer to once you are in your new home.
  • Documents – copies of any important documents such as Pet Passports, vaccination cards, insurance papers, medical history.
  • Clear, recent photo – keep a photo handy just in case your pet goes missing.
  • Accessories – leashes, harnesses, collars, sunshirts, thundershirts, coats etc.
  • Food, treats, dishes, waterbowls, poo-bags – these may be restricted if your pet is travelling to a different country.
  • A few familiar items from home – blanket, soft toys, etc.
  • Medications/Supplements – make sure these are correctly labelled and in child-proof containers.

**Check with customs what items are permissible to bring in to the country as some destinations may not allow animal products (e.g. food or leather products)

On arrival:

Find a local veterinary practice. Find out what you would need to do in the event of an after-hours emergency. Most practices will have an after-hours number while some might direct you to an emergency clinic nearby.

Take your pet out for some good exercise. They might be a little anxious and frightened at first so make sure your energy is always calm and assertive.

Get into a routine as soon as you can. Your pet will settle in more readily if you start the routine of exercise, feeding time, play time etc. as if nothing has changed.

Check local laws and regulations for pet ownership. If you have moved permanently, some countries may require you to register your pet with a council/shire.



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Q: Should I feed my pet before their flight?

A: Pets do best when they fly on an empty stomach. Feeding between 5 and 6 hours before a flight will ensure your pet has the energy and nutrition they need for the journey and reduces the risk of vomiting from motion sickness or anxiety and there is less of a chance they will soil their crate.

Q: What can my pet travel in?

A: Ensure that your pet will be travelling in a crate that meets the IATA guidelines. These guidelines stipulate the size, design and arrangement of food and water bowls. If you are using a pet transport company, they will often build a crate to your pet’s specifications.

Q: My pet hates being in a travel crate – what should I do?

A: Cats, and to a lesser extent dogs, may associate being put in a crate with a trip to the vets and therefore may not have a positive association with their crate or travel box. If your pet experiences anxiety or fear at the prospect of being put in a crate and they are going to be a frequent traveller then consider starting the process of desensitization and counter-conditioning well before you travel. While this may work well for some pets, there are some cases where it wouldn’t be appropriate so consult your vet or behaviourist before starting.

The basis of desensitization is to train your pet into believing that the crate or box is not something to be feared. This is a slow and gradual process. Just being in the same room as the crate while distracting your pet with treats and play might be the first step. Alternatively, you could start by leaving the crate in a quiet room with the door open and some treats around and at the entrance to the crate. After a day or so, check whether your pet has cleaned up the treats and if so replenish them and place some further into the crate. The idea is to desensitize your pet to the crate and to counter-condition by replacing feelings of intimidation or fear with positive experiences. A good resource for this type of training can be found here. If your pet is anxious, perhaps try Adaptil or Feliway products. You can use these products to help your pet become familiar with their crate and relax while in it. A lot of pets will start to treat their crate like their kennel/bed – a safe sanctuary wherethey feel comfortable.

Q: My dog is anxious, can he/she be sedated for the flight?

A: Many Owners request that their pets be sedated for the duration of the flight. Although this might seem like a good idea (and for some humans can be very helpful in reducing anxiety) we do not recommend it. The reasons for this are;

  • – Many commonly used sedatives have side effects such as lowering blood pressure and reducing the pet’s ability to regulate their own body temperature. At altitude, these effects may be exaggerated.
  • – Your pet will be unaccompanied while on the plane and if they were to react unexpectedly to the sedative, there would be no one to assist.
  • – Sedative drugs are not routinely tested on animals at the air pressures experienced in flight. Anecdotally, there have been reports of pets who suffer excessive sedation and in extreme cases have been unable to be revived after landing.
  • – Sedatives or anti-anxiety medications rarely last beyond 4-8 hours meaning that in most cases the effect would not last the duration of the flight.
  • – Once your pet has been loaded onto the plane, the environment is quiet and dark and they can settle down nicely.

Instead of sedation, you could discuss with your regular vet using products like Adaptil and Feliway sprays, DAP tablets or Zylkene. Don’t underestimate the benefit of good exercise. A good exercise session before being crated will mean your pet is more likely to settle in and rest.

Q: Can pets fly with medical conditions?

A: It depends. Conditions that are well controlled, non-infectious and where the patient can go without treatment from the time they depart their home/kennel to when they land and have cleared customs, are more likely to be able to fly. Each case is different and it would be wise to consult the veterinarian treating your pet and if of course you need any advice, we would be happy to discuss this with you. Bear in mind that a pet flying with a health condition will be a higher risk so think carefully about whether shipping your pet is in their best interest and if so, plan carefully and visit your vet for regular check ups.

Medications can sometimes be shipped with your pet however this again will differ with countries. If your pet will need to undergo quarantine at their destination then special paperwork may need to accompany the medication and it would be advisable to send a small amount only as this will likely not be returned to you after quarantine has ended. Keep in mind medications will need to be in appropriate containers and correctly labelled by a veterinarian.

Q: What goes in my pet’s crate when they travel?

A: Although our initial thought might be to make our pet as comfortable as possible on their flight, unnecessary items can significantly reduce the amount of space they have to move around during flight. The ideal bedding is that which wicks moisture away from the surface and provides a nice layer of comfort without being too bulky. We recommend using VetBed. Your pet can travel with an item of comfort such as a T-shirt or a small, thin blanket with familiar smells however this should not take up too much space.

Your pet will have one or two waterbowls attached to one side of the crate with a funnel to top water up from the outside pre- and post-flight. Consider the material the crate is built from as some pets may chew or scratch the bowls or crate doors/sides. If this is the case a plastic crate with stainless steel bowls may be safer than a wooden crate with plastic bowls.

Q: Should I be there to see my pet off?

A: Its true what they say about animals picking up on their owner’s feelings. You may want a friend or family member to drop your pet off at the kennel or airport or a driver to pick them up if you think it might be a teary and distressing farewell for you. You don’t want to leave your pet thinking that there is something terrible happening! Keep the goodbye as positive and happy as you can and as difficult as we know it might be, try not to fuss too much!

Vaccination and microchip clinic now available


Did you say what I think you said?

Is your pet microchipped? Are they due for vaccination? Have they been treated for parasites?

Heathrow Vet Services is now offering a friendly vaccination clinic open to the public. Whether you are travelling or not, it is important for your pet to be protected against infectious disease and have a routine health check. We are conveniently based at Heathrow Cargo Centre and offer a friendly service at a competitive price. By appointment only – call 02036914622/07733322525

Virgin Atlantic Approved Vets

New Australia import regulations come into effect in February and according to the import permits we have seen there will be no need for any sealing of crates. HVS are approved by Virgin Atlantic for pre document checks required within 24hours of departure. We are happy to meet you at the airport or whatever suits you best!

Here to help for last-minute airport assistance

For a stress-free pre-flight vet check, stamp in passport or authorised letter, or if you’ve forgotten to deworm your pet or apply tick treatment in time, contact Heathrow Vets!  Our Official Veterinarians are stationed on-site at Heathrow Airport and ready to help.