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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am planning to move to France from the UK later this year with my dogs. I am looking for information on the legalities of vaccinating dogs to be permanently resident in France, specifically:


(i) Are all dogs that reside in France on a permanent basis and do not travel to another country required to have an annual rabies jab?

(ii) Is the canine rabies vaccine only compulsory in some departments?

(iii) Can an elderly and/or unhealthy dog apply for a waiver from the rabies vaccine requirement?


I have come across a lot of conflicting advice in my search for answers to these questions to date and, therefore, would really appreciate some advice from someone who is based in France already.

I should add that the two areas that I am interested in moving to are Poitou-Charentes and Languedoc-Roussillon.
 

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As I understand it, you can't bring your dog into France without a rabies vaccination and a pet passport. You also can't board your dog without a rabies vaccination, but once here vaccinations aren't mandatory unless your dog is category 1 or 2.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks so much for your reply EverHopeful! My dogs are not category 1 or 2. They are all quite old and have chronic, non-contagious, health problems. I wanted to make sure that they would not have to get boosters when their health starts to deteriorate further. They have never been outside of the UK before so I must admit that I do question the logic behind having the rabies vaccine administered before they leave but, hey, that’s the law for you! Thanks again.
 

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It may be legislative but I often travel to & fro from UK-France-Greece and have never been asked to produce a pet passport for our dog except when entering UK
 

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Officials within Europe don't seem interested in seeing passports but the vet will expect to keep them updated, and you will be asked for them by hotel and campsite receptionists if you book in. I think they are checking the category of dog you have.
Personally why wouldn't people keep injections up to date? Last week our dog had his annual health check, rabies and kennel cough boosters for a total of €52. Thus he can return to the UK, if need be, 24 hours after his veterinary worming treatment, which also costs about €50. The alternative for us would be to pay €18 a day to the local kennels. He is a big dog, with a hearty appetite.
 

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I think I need to explain, I 100% agree with ccm47 comments, it is far better to ensure your pet is protected by way of vaccination etc.etc. However again ironically we often camp out in the summer months on our journey from Southern Italy to Western France (caravan in tow) and have never been asked to show our pet's passport. Likewise on our winter trips when we have booked hotels, we have not been asked either......(neither in Italy nor France). It appears the policy is very loose.

On another note, France & Greece require anti rabies vaccines each year, the UK every 3 years.
 

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You asked why before you travel? Simply because the vaccines take time to work before any immunity is effective. If you are going to be in the south, it is possible that you may be in sandfly territory (they come up from Africa) so you may also need leishmania injections or a Scalibor collar (some dogs are allergic).
 

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Just a warning, the vaccinations are obligatory for travel within France (although nearly everyone is unaware of that). Whilst there might currently be little control at borders and none within France, one case of rabies in another border country would almost certainly result in checks being done at that border, and one case in France (God forbid) would likely result in checks within France, either within and at the border of the Departement or nationally.

Voyager avec vos chiens, chats et furets en France - Frankrijk in Nederland/ La France aux Pays-Bas
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for all your replies. I think that I should explain myself too…

I am also pro-vaccine and, if my dogs were still in their prime, I wouldn’t question the rabies vaccine at all. But they’re not. One of my dogs is a sixteen-year-old Shih Tzu whose mobility problems mean that he is always with a member of the family.

In the US, each of my dogs would be eligible for a medical waiver from the annual rabies vaccine but I guess that Europe is lagging behind a little on this. I am a lawyer and so there is no question of me not following the law. The dogs are booked in to be vaccinated against rabies but I can’t say that I wish they didn’t have to have it because, as I am sure you are all aware, this particular vaccine entails significant risks for elderly dogs with chronic health problems.

Aside from my own concerns about how my dogs will react to the vaccine, I have reservations about my vet. She has advised that the dogs medical problems mean that there is a chance that they will not develop sufficient antibodies and, accordingly, she will not issue their passports until she has seen a satisfactory titer test. Thus, I am in a more complicated position than most - having to have the dogs given a potentially risky vaccination which may not work on them.

I just hoped that, once in France, the dogs would not have to have more rabies boosters. However, I understand the rationale for the annual rabies booster. The dogs will not be returning to the UK at any point nor will they be boarded or booked into holiday accommodation. Given their advanced age, I will be fortunate to get all of the dogs to France to see them enjoy their twilight years in their new home. Thanks once again.
 

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I'm not sure that Europe is behind the US, I think it's probably the reverse, certainly in terms of the incidence of rabies.

Maybe you should change your vet?
 

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Once you get to France, you need to find a vet for your dogs. You should be able to work with the vet on the vaccination issue. Normally, cats and dogs are vaccinated once a year, but if you work with your vet here in France, you may be able to find a compromise position based on the condition of the animals.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I'm not sure that Europe is behind the US, I think it's probably the reverse, certainly in terms of the incidence of rabies.

Maybe you should change your vet?
Yes, Europe has done very well in its endeavours to tackle rabies. However, I subscribe to the school of thought that supports making decisions on administering the rabies vaccine/booster to sick dogs on a case-by-case basis. As such, I agree with those states in the US which have, following the likes of the “Molly’s law” campaign, proceeded to implement the medical waiver scheme.

I’ve considered changing my vet but, with four dogs on repeat prescriptions, it is no straightforward exercise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi Bev.

Thanks for your reply. I am sure that you are correct and that, if necessary, a vet in France may propose a course of action for each dog’s annual booster. I do know that some vets tailor the vaccine to the needs of each dog e.g. provide a supplement to help counter any side-effects.
 

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Hi Bev.

Thanks for your reply. I am sure that you are correct and that, if necessary, a vet in France may propose a course of action for each dog’s annual booster. I do know that some vets tailor the vaccine to the needs of each dog e.g. provide a supplement to help counter any side-effects.
The question of the rabies vaccination is not just to prevent your dog getting it, it is to protect every man woman and especially child that runs the risk of being bitten by a rabid dog. Just because a dog is old or in ill-health, it doesn't reduce the risk, and, in fact, it increases it. Older dogs like older humans run the risk of becoming more crochety and less tolerant of minor inconveniences such as small children pulling tails or ears or... and would be more likely to bite without meaning to.

What sane countries do and what the US does are two different things. Most countries around the world do not allow unrestricted ownership, or use, of firearms - the US has the right to have the means to kill anyone by use of arms enshrined in their constitution.
 

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Don't worry!

Over the past 7 years I have traveled between the UK and France over a hundred times with my dogs; I have never had to show the dogs' passports entering France, although I do not know the air regulations. It is only the UK that insist on Rabies and a certain tapeworm treatment to enter, although technically you should have a passport to cross any border now, I understand that this is rarely done in Central Europe.

Personally, I do not agree with routine vaccination. Before they needed a passport, I had my dogs blood tested and they only received the specific vaccine that they needed, when they needed it. This is not permitted under the pet passport scheme.

The new rabies vaccine allows the dog to travel after 4 weeks and no blood tests are required.

My dogs had not been vaccinated at all in the past 3 years; they do not leave the property, so I do not feel it is necessary. My vet accepts this and has never tried to persuade me otherwise.

The 16 yo jack russell had the oportunity to go to the UK on holiday for 3 months in the spring with her Grandma, so she went to the vet with her out-of-date passport, had one rabies shot and traveled 4 weeks later. No other vaccinations are required now (only the pre-UK entry tapeworm treatment just before travel).

I have found that I work with the vets for the good of the dogs and they respect my opinion. Worry ye not!

Gypsycob x
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The question of the rabies vaccination is not just to prevent your dog getting it, it is to protect every man woman and especially child that runs the risk of being bitten by a rabid dog. Just because a dog is old or in ill-health, it doesn't reduce the risk, and, in fact, it increases it. Older dogs like older humans run the risk of becoming more crochety and less tolerant of minor inconveniences such as small children pulling tails or ears or... and would be more likely to bite without meaning to.

What sane countries do and what the US does are two different things. Most countries around the world do not allow unrestricted ownership, or use, of firearms - the US has the right to have the means to kill anyone by use of arms enshrined in their constitution.
Yes Baldilocks, as I said earlier, I do understand the rationale behind the rabies vaccine. It is the annual booster requirement that I have reservations about. Studies show that the antibodies from the first vaccine last far longer than one year and, therefore, there is no need to give a booster to a dog on an annual basis, particularly if the dog is old or ill. It is the risks associated with over-vaccination that underscore the important work of organisations like the Rabies Challenge Fund.

The US is actually very restrictive on dog ownership, requiring an annual booster for rabies etc. That said, some states have taken heed of campaigns to exempt dogs with cancer etc from the annual rabies booster. These states offset the medical exemption by mandating the owners of exempt dogs to muzzle and leash the dog at all times etc. The exemption is then reviewed periodically so that the boosters can recommence when/if the dog recovers from its illness. To me, the booster exemption approach makes sense and I for one favour it being replicated in European countries.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Over the past 7 years I have traveled between the UK and France over a hundred times with my dogs; I have never had to show the dogs' passports entering France, although I do not know the air regulations. It is only the UK that insist on Rabies and a certain tapeworm treatment to enter, although technically you should have a passport to cross any border now, I understand that this is rarely done in Central Europe.

Personally, I do not agree with routine vaccination. Before they needed a passport, I had my dogs blood tested and they only received the specific vaccine that they needed, when they needed it. This is not permitted under the pet passport scheme.

The new rabies vaccine allows the dog to travel after 4 weeks and no blood tests are required.

My dogs had not been vaccinated at all in the past 3 years; they do not leave the property, so I do not feel it is necessary. My vet accepts this and has never tried to persuade me otherwise.

The 16 yo jack russell had the oportunity to go to the UK on holiday for 3 months in the spring with her Grandma, so she went to the vet with her out-of-date passport, had one rabies shot and traveled 4 weeks later. No other vaccinations are required now (only the pre-UK entry tapeworm treatment just before travel).

I have found that I work with the vets for the good of the dogs and they respect my opinion. Worry ye not!

Gypsycob x
Thank you Gypsycob for your helpful comments. It is always good to hear from someone who has already walked the path you face.

Like you, I am very hands-on with respect to my dogs’ health. There has been far too many errors made in the past (over medicating/misdiagnosis etc) for me to never question what a vet says and boosters are no exception.

Anyway, fingers crossed, my dogs will also tolerate the vaccine well. :)
 

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Like you, I am very hands-on with respect to my dogs’ health. There has been far too many errors made in the past (over medicating/misdiagnosis etc) for me to never question what a vet says and boosters are no exception.

Anyway, fingers crossed, my dogs will also tolerate the vaccine well. :)
A holistic vet will provide a homeopathic treatment immediately after receiving an unavoidable vaccine; they are effective at minimizing problems stemming from vaccinosis.

I always took the Euro-tunnel with the dogs as you stay with them and when travelling in the summer, drove through the night. I almost lost a golden retriever to heat stroke in a traffic jam in Paris one July afternoon, so never risked it again.

Good luck,
Gypsycob x
 

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Over the past 7 years I have traveled between the UK and France over a hundred times with my dogs; I have never had to show the dogs' passports entering France, although I do not know the air regulations. It is only the UK that insist on Rabies and a certain tapeworm treatment to enter, although technically you should have a passport to cross any border now, I understand that this is rarely done in Central Europe.

Personally, I do not agree with routine vaccination. Before they needed a passport, I had my dogs blood tested and they only received the specific vaccine that they needed, when they needed it. This is not permitted under the pet passport scheme.

The new rabies vaccine allows the dog to travel after 4 weeks and no blood tests are required.

Gypsycob x
My old dog has just taken French Nationality (I had to buy him a new passport) and I noticed that the 'start date' is 4 weeks after his rabies jab. The UK only requires 21 days. I wonder if that would ever cause a problem with a 'jobsworth' if one was ever checked coming into France in less than the 4 weeks.

The tapeworm treatment is for Echinococcus multilocularis (thankfully known as EM) & the active ingredient must be Praziquantel. This particular tapeworm is not currently found in the UK.

The wormer must be given and recorded by a vet between 24 -120 hours before entry into the UK. My friend was delayed because it was only given 23 hours before his dog was checked. He told them the ferry doesn't leave for 90 minutes, but they still based their times on the checkpoint & he had to take a later ferry.
 

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Going Off-Topic, but in response to an insightful remark:

Ah, but Baldi, I'm quite sure that here in the Land of the Free, all dogs who seek to carry guns are required, unlike humans, to undergo a thorough psychiatric evaluation, an extensive background check, and both written and practical tests to demonstrate competence with firearms before obtaining a licence - and no doubt it's the latter that explains why there are so few gun-toting dogs out on the streets: the little fellas have a heck of a time filling in those multiple-choice answers with a no. 2 pencil on the written test and often can't get a proper hold on the grip with their thumbless paws in order to pull the trigger with anything approaching an accurate aim...

And going back On-Topic:

I've been scrolling through fairly quickly, so perhaps I misunderstood, but I'm surprised to hear that rabies shots are usually followed up with annual boosters: I know that the now 17-yo Jack Russell I lived with for several years while his mom was overseas was only required to get a rabies booster every 3 years - maybe that's just a NYC thing, since so many dogs here live highly sedentary, largely nature-free (indoor) lives - or maybe it was an age thing. To be honest, I never asked the vet.
 
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