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Sending dog to UK.

Species: Cat
Breed: DSH / DLH
Age: 3-6 months
My cats were given Killed Virus 3 year vaccine (Fort Dodge Rabvac 3TF) at 4 months of age.

I am planning to take them to UK (from Canada) and UK government requires that they be vaccinated against rabies AFTER microchipping. They were NOT microchipped at the time of receiving the rabies vaccine, but have subsequently been microchipped.

From the UK DEFRA website:

What you need to do if you are entering the UK from the EU and listed non-EU countries

Preparing your dog, cat or ferret

Step 1 – Have your pet microchipped – Before any of the other procedures for pet travel are carried out, your pet must be fitted with a microchip so it can be properly identified.
Step 2 – Have your pet vaccinated – After the microchip has been fitted your pet must be vaccinated against rabies. There is no exemption to this requirement, even if your pet has a current rabies vaccination. Rabies boosters must be kept up to date. The length of the waiting period before entry to the UK is 21 days after the first vaccination date. A waiting period is not required for subsequent entries into the UK, provided rabies boosters are kept up to date. If the vaccination is in two parts the 21 day wait will be from the date of the second vaccination.

My question is - what is the earliest that it is safe to REDO the rabies vaccine? It has been two months. I cannot wait a year as need to return to the UK as soon as possible.

Second part of the question - assuming it is safe to do the rabies vaccine a second time after such a short period has elapsed, should I get the 3year Killed Virus vaccine again, or should I ask for a 1 year MLV rabies vaccine instead? After they had already received the 3 year Killed Virus, I found some information that this is not recommended due to risk of sarcomas and am now very concerned by this possibility.

Please help! I am so worried. Thanks,

Juliette Daigre

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thank you for an interesting question. I find it interesting that you should ask this because I currently have a very similar case in my practice right now! (I practice in Ottawa and have a lot of travelling diplomat clients.) I have a client who is sending a dog to France and this dog was not microchipped at the time that she received her rabies vaccine. I have recently done a LOT of research to see if there was a way around revaccinating her, but unfortunately there is not.

It really should be safe to redo the vaccination now. I have done this several times and it is very uncommon that we have any problems. I have sent a number of animals to Japan and that government requires that two vaccines are given, 30 days apart. I once did have an animal have an allergic reaction to the second vaccination. It was mild and was treated with antihistamines and the pet did just fine.

Most likely, if this were my case I would suggest having some antihistamines on board at the time of the second vaccination, just in case. This is something you can talk to your veterinarian about.

Regarding the type of the vaccination, there are only certain rabies vaccines that are acceptable to get into the UK. Recently, they have started allowing Merial Purevax canarypox vector vaccine. This is, in my opinion, one of the safest vaccines out there. It is a one year vaccine and if this were my case then I would give it. The 3 year vaccine does carry an increased risk of something called injection site sarcoma. Fortunately this condition is quite rare. I have given tens of thousands of rabies vaccines in my career and have seen an injection site sarcoma twice. So, if all your vet has available is a 3 year vaccine, the odds are that this will be safe.

If your vet does not have a lot of experience with exporting animals to the UK, one of the things that I have found extremely helpful is the CFIA. I will commonly email my contact at the CFIA and ask questions (such as which vaccination is acceptable) and they are very helpful.

It is also important to note that the UK has recently changed its requirements as far as needing a rabies titre. I'll be honest and let you know that I don't know them off of the top of my head. But it is worthwhile to mention to your vet that the requirements have changed as of January 2012. They may want to double check their procedures are ok.

I hope that information helps and hope all goes well!

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.