How can I take my pet to the UK?

by Francine

Taking pets from Spain to the UK

Taking pets from Spain to the UK

Do you know anything about how long my dog has to stay in Spain before we re-enter the UK? We are moving here on a 6 month basis and plan to re-enter the UK before our six months is up.


For more information on this topic, visit the Complete Guide for Pets in Marbella.

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Jul 22, 2016
Traveling to the UK with your pet
by: Dr Daniela Elders

Traveling With Your Pet:
A lot of people live in more countries than just Spain and travel back and forth on a regular basis. If you intend on traveling with your pet to, for example, the UK and back to Spain, you need to follow one simple rule: Follow the laws of the country with the most frequent vaccination schedule. In this case it would be SPAIN! In the UK a Rabies vaccine is good for 3 years but here in Spain it is only good for 1 year.

Let’s look at two examples:
Example number 1: You live here in Spain and your pet just got a Rabies vaccine 6 months ago. You are now going back to the UK and plan on staying there for 12 months. You will not have a problem taking your pet to the UK since the Rabies vaccine is good for 2.5 more years there (according to UK law), but when you get back to Spain the Spanish authorities are going to stop you, because (according to Spanish law) the last Rabies vaccine is now 1.5 years ago and your pet is now 6 months overdue for their vaccine. How can you solve this problem? You have to go to a vet in the UK and get another Rabies vaccine before you travel. The Rabies vaccine is good as of the moment it was given, so you can go to the vet the day before you travel and get it.

Example number 2: You just got the chance to fly back to Ireland for the weekend, but you could not find a pet sitter on such short notice. You decide to take your pet with you and after calling the airline company you can take you pet with you on the plane. As long as your pets’ Rabies vaccine is good for the entire time you are traveling, you will not have a problem to enter Ireland and come back to Spain. There are no maximum or minimum time requirements, as long as your airline is informed (and paid) you can take as many pets as often as you want.

Pet Vaccines – which are obligatory to travel and best for your pets’ health …

Why Do Animals Need Vaccinations?
Animals need vaccinations to help prevent dangerous diseases from killing them. Vaccines contain deactivated viruses/bacteria or parts of them, which make your pet’s immune system think that it is getting attacked by the real thing and so it learns to kill the real thing. The vaccines cannot give your pet the disease in question, but they prepare your pet’s immune system to fight off the disease if it does occur.

What Diseases Can Vaccinations Protect Against?
There are vaccines available to protect your pet against more than 20 different diseases. Depending on your life style and where you live, your pet might not need them all. Your veterinarian can recommend those that are needed. There are, what vets like to call, CORE and NON-CORE vaccines.

For Dogs: Vaccines for Parvo virus, Distemper, Hepatitis and Rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the dog’s exposure risk. These include vaccines against Bordetella, Lyme Disease, Leishmaniosis and Leptospirosis.

For Cats: Vaccines for Panleukopenia (Cat Parvo), Calici virus, Herpes virus and Rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the cat's lifestyle; these include Leukemia virus, Infectious Peritonitis (Corona virus), and FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus).

The Core Vaccination according to Spanish Law:
• Rabies: This is a fatal and highly contagious disease. Humans can catch it from wild animals and pets, so it is a legal requirement for ALL PETS to have an up-to-date Rabies vaccination. Depending on the country you live in, your pet will need to have a booster vaccine every year or every three years. Here is Spain your pet needs to be vaccinated against Rabies EVERY YEAR.

Puppy and Kitten Vaccination Schedule
It’s important that puppies and kittens are given their vaccinations on a strict schedule. This allows their body time to develop a good immune response. Until your puppy or kitten has had all their vaccinations, it isn’t safe for him/her to go outside, except for your own yard of cause.

Any baby animal should be with its mom until they are at least 8 weeks old. This means that the first vaccine is "usually" given by the owner of the mother animal, should this not be the case your vet can modify the schedule to ensure full immune protection.
After the first vaccine (with 8 weeks of age) your puppy or kitten should be revaccinated every 3-4 weeks for at least 2 more vaccine rounds, which means that by the time your pet is 16 weeks (4 month) old they should be sufficiently vaccinated to go outside and play with others. Here is Spain puppies and kittens need to get a microchip (see SEM’s microchipping article) before they can get their first Rabies vaccine at about 5 month of age. Furthermore, it is important to know that the first Rabies vaccine is only good for 1 MONTH! Then (by Spanish Law!) your pet needs to be revaccinated. All subsequent vaccines are then good for 1 year each.

Are There Any Risks Involved?
Unfortunately, there are potential risks to having your puppy vaccinated. That said, the benefits by far outweighed the risks.
First and foremost: vaccine reactions are VERY RARE! That said, in most cases side-effects from these injections are extremely minor and include things such as soreness of the injection site and slight tiredness for 24 hours. However, you should monitor your pet closely after a vaccination and contact your vet right away if you notice any of the following symptoms:
• Hives
• Facial swelling
• Collapse
• Seizure
• Difficulty breathing
• Pale gums
• Weakness
• Staggering
• High fever
• Explosive or prolonged vomiting or diarrhea

This article was written by Dr Daniela Elders from Clinica Veterinaria Estepona. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Clinica Veterinaria Estepona ( at 951.51.82.44 or

For help with pet registration in Spain, visit Sunshine Enterprises Marbella.

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