Don’t settle for pet theories, get pet answers! Veterinary surgeon Holly Norman answers your animal health questions
I’m thinking about taking my dog with me on holiday to France. I’d heard that they need a passport and I was wondering how I go about getting one?
How lovely! It can be a great experience to take your pet on holiday with you and let them enjoy a different country too. You’re right, they do need a passport of their own. Dogs, cats and ferrets can travel between countries according to the PET Travel Scheme. Each animal will require a pet passport that has been filled out by an Official Veterinarian as well as being microchipped and vaccinated for rabies. To become an Official Veterinarian, there is additional training and an examination to do, so please check with your local practice that the vets there are able to issue passports. All Official Veterinarians are vets but not all vets have done the extra training to become an Official Veterinarian! The vet will do a full physical examination and check that your pet’s microchip is working and if everything is alright, administer the rabies vaccination. You are allowed to travel with your pet twenty one days after vaccination. To re-enter to the UK, you will have to visit a vet and have a tapeworm treatment administered between one and five days before returning, but this is only for dogs. This bit doesn’t need to be completed by an Official Veterinarian, but the vet doing it will need to stamp and sign your passport to prove that it has been done as there are certain worms that dogs can pick up in other countries that are not present in the UK. Depending on where you are going, it is worth researching any additional requirements that a particular airline, ferry or train service may need to allow your pet to travel. Certain countries may also recommend additional protection against biting flies or ticks and your vets will be able to advise you on the best products to use.
I knew that my dogs and cat had to be microchipped but a friend said that I should also get my tortoise done as well? Is this correct, and if so, where do you microchip a tortoise?!
Yes, it’s not just cats and dogs that need microchipping! Dogs are now required to be microchipped by law from eight weeks old and the details on the microchip database kept up to date. Cats are not legally required to be microchipped yet but we would always advise getting it done. The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is inserted under the skin, between the shoulder-blades in cats and dogs. We also advise microchipping in many other species, including rabbits, ferrets, snakes, tortoises and parrots as they can also get lost or be stolen. In tortoises, we insert the microchip under the skin in the back left leg. This means that if your pet is found and presented at a veterinary practice, we can scan the microchip and the unique identification number will enable us to find your details on the microchip database and let you know your pet has been located.
Can I feed my dog fruit and vegetables? I’ve heard about giving them raw carrots to chew on but I wasn’t sure if some things were poisonous?
Most dogs love fresh fruit and veg and these can be a great reward, containing far fewer calories than typical pet shop chews or treats, although fresh fruit can be high in natural sugars so only feed rarely. I will often suggest carrots, broccoli, apples (remove the pips), bananas and peas as occasional treats and my dogs love them. Onions and grapes should be avoided at all costs as they are poisonous to dogs and never feed any fruit with a stone in as the stone can become lodged in the intestines and require surgery to remove it. Corn on the cob is also a no-no as this will also get stuck and cause problems. If you have any concerns or you aren’t sure if a food is safe, always contact your local veterinary practice and we will be happy to help!
Dr Holly Norman BSc (Hons) BVetMed MRCVS veterinary surgeon and Joint Venture Partner at: Peterborough Vets4Pets 231-233 St Paul’s Road Peterborough PE1 3RL Tel: 01733 890777 & Bretton Vets4Pets Inside Pets at Home Unit 2 The Bretton Centre Peterborough PE3 8DN Tel: 01733 261094