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What could Brexit mean for our pets?

A no-deal Brexit is becoming increasingly likely. This could have serious implications for the UK economy and many aspects of our daily lives. But what about our pets? Will our much-loved animals also be negatively impacted by the dreaded no-deal scenario?



There is no doubt that life in the UK will change on October 31, deal or no-deal. Disruptions at the border and fresh food shortages are just two of the issues which are widely expected. Pet owners should also be worried because there may also be problems with pet passports, medicines and veterinary staff.

Brexit and pet passports

Pet passports are of huge concern to those who split their time between Europe and the UK or like to holiday with their pets. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs () has stated that travelling with pets will still be possible after the UK leaves the EU. However, the reality is that nobody knows what will happen if we leave without a deal.

It is possible that the UK will be classified as an unlisted third country which would mean that the current pet passports wouldn’t be valid. There would be more complicated rules regarding travelling with pets and the process of acquiring the necessary documentation could take a lot longer. Failure to comply with any rules which are instituted would result in animals having to spend time in quarantine.

If you are planning to travel with your pet, you should visit your vet at least four months before your departure date as the necessary blood tests for travel post-Brexit could take three months or more to complete. To make matters worse, those tests will be expensive.

Vets for our pets

Every year, 1000 vets who qualified in the EU join the register of vets in the UK. With freedom of movement almost certain to end, we could face a shortage of vets across the country. The inevitable consequence would be difficulties in obtaining appointments and higher charges. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is concerned that a no-deal Brexit would result in barriers to the recruitment of veterinary staff.

Veterinary medicines

Much has been written about the possibility of medicine shortages following Brexit. DEFRA say that moves are underway to ensure the continued supply of veterinary medicines. But fears remain that drugs won’t arrive on time or get through at all because they will be held up in lorry log jams at the ports. DEFRA are advising pet owners to discuss their animals’ needs with their vets now and then plan for potential delays.

Animal welfare

The UK boasts some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world. DEFRA has emphasised these will not be weakened after Brexit and may even be enhanced. Brexit could be good news for our animals in the long run but the transition period may well be fraught with frustration and problems. Dogs might have to stay at home when their owners travel and all pets could be vulnerable to shortfalls in veterinary staff.


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