Pet owners travelling with their animals to the Olympics should be vigilant to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne infections, according to MedicAnimal, the UK’s leading online pet healthcare retailer. Data from Holiday Lettings, a holiday accommodation booking site, showed that enquiries for pet-friendly accommodation rose 150% in a year, with more UK pet owners looking for ways to bring their pets along with them, both on domestic trips and abroad.

While there is currently no evidence that dogs or cats can transmit or contract Zika virus, research in this area is limited and studies have shown that primates and mice are able to contract the virus.

Andrew Bucher, Chief Veterinary Officer at MedicAnimal, said: “Travelling with a pet is a great experience, and many families across the UK clearly feel the same way. However, when travelling with an animal, the number one priority should be your pet’s safety and comfort, and there are a few things to consider when planning a trip of this kind.

“When entering Brazil directly from a rabies free country like the UK, your dog or cat does not require the rabies immunization, although it is recommended.

“Although cats and dogs are guarded against mosquitoes by their fur, they are vulnerable to bites on their ears and noses. As with humans, a bite from a mosquito can result in everything from an annoying itch to more serious parasitic diseases.

“The major disease risks for your pet from foreign insects in the EU are Leishmaniasis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, and the biggest concern from mosquitoes to your pet is heartworm, which is common in the US and Australia but has also been reported in Brittany, France.

“Mosquito prevention should always be the primary tactic, and taking measures such as not walking your dog at peak mosquito times is the best method of minimising these risks.

“If your pet is ever poorly in the future and you have been abroad with them, please remember to tell the vet, no matter how long ago the travel was.”

A Vet’s Top Tips and Advice for Travelling with Your Pet

If you are planning a trip with the whole family, including your pet, be sure to plan ahead to help avoid any unfortunate incidents.

1. Pet Health Insurance: Make sure your insurance covers you abroad.

2. Foreign Insects: There are some diseases that our pets are susceptible to outside the UK. Most of these are transmitted by parasites including ticks, sand-flies and mosquitoes. You should see your vet about 3 weeks before you travel to have a pre-travel health check and to discuss appropriate prevention while you are abroad. If travelling to warm, Mediterranean areas, you should always use a Scalibor collar on your dog three weeks before you travel and throughout your trip to protect against these ticks, sand-flies and mosquitoes. Full parasite protection (except lungworm and heartworm) can be provided by 3-monthly dosing with Drontal, a treatment for intestinal worms in dogs. Prevention of heartworm and lungworm can be managed with specific prescription medicines. Your vet will be able to discuss the appropriate product when you visit them prior to travel.

3. Don’t use human insect repellent on your dog: Specific repellents are available for animals, and most flea and tick products are formulated to repel mosquitoes as well.

4. Use meshes/netting over windows: Most mosquitoes will enter a home through open windows or broken window screens. If you wake up with new bites on your arms, it may be worth considering additional mesh to protect you and your furry friend.

5. Keep your pet inside at times of peak activity – Mosquitos are most active in the early morning and late afternoon, and avoiding these times will minimise the risk of your pet being bitten.