Finding someone to look after your dog or arranging kennels can be a real hassle at holiday times. Relaxation of pet travel regulations in Europe has seen a growing trend in taking the family pet along to enjoy the summer break. But a pet passport, microchip and rabies jab may not be all that you need to consider when taking your dog abroad.
Vet and Journalist, Pete Wedderburn, tells a cautionary tale based on his experience with Ted, a young Beagle who contracted a life-threatening, exotic illness soon after returning to the UK.
The first sign of a problem happened two days after landing on these shores: his owner noticed a large tick on his back. She carefully removed it and threw it into a fire, aware that ticks can carry nasty illnesses in dogs and humans. The tick had not been bothering Ted, and he seemed as healthy as ever.
The following day, Ted stopped eating and refused to get out of his bed. A visit to the vet revealed that he had a high temperature, and he had pale gums. The most common cause of these two signs is a disease called Auto Immune Haemolytic Anaemia, when the immune system starts to destroy the dog’s own blood cells. But alarm bells were ringing in the back of my mind: Ted’s recent arrival from Poland and the fact that a tick had been feeding on him suggested that something else might be going on.
A blood sample sent to the laboratory confirmed what I suspected: the large tick had infected Ted with a microscopic parasite called Babesia Canis. Thousands of tiny Babesia organisms had invaded his blood stream, destroying his red blood cells. He needed urgent life-saving treatment with a type of medicine that I didn’t have on my pharmacy shelf. I had to contact a local farm vet to obtain an immediate supply of the drug, which is commonly used to treat Redwater in cattle.
Ted had to stay on a drip, being hand-fed, for three days. Some cases need a blood transfusion to keep them alive, but Ted was lucky not to be so severely affected.
Read his full article in the Telegraph: Importing a dog from Europe? Could you also be importing a disease?
So check on likely risks where you are intending to holiday, take appropriate precautions and make sure your pet insurance is up to date!