Us Aussie pet owners are passionate folk, in fact 98% of us consider our pets as “part of the family” – so it’s no wonder we take them on holidays with us.
With the explosion of Australian dog-friendly accommodation, off-leash parks and beaches, day trips are becoming common outings. And as travelling with pets becomes more common, we’re also travelling further with them.
For a first time holidayer (or even a seasoned tripper) there are a few things you should do to prepare your fur-buddy for a trip.
Is it your first time?
There are very few pets out there who just get in the car for the first time and not throw up, pee or poo – or in some cases, attempt a jump out the window.
Like people, it’s not just being a “new experience”, pets can have anxiety issues or just straight up car-sickness too.
So if it’s your first time, be sure to start with a super short ride to the local park, then build up to a day trip before doing any real serious travel.
The key is consistency, the less “new” things that happen, the less stressed they’ll get – which leads to the next point.
Restraining your pet in Australia.
By law in Australia, you MUST have your pet restrained in a moving vehicle. Whether it be a crate, a harness or properly restrained in the back of a ute for example. Gone are the days of your dog jumping in the passenger seat.
While there is no law in regards to seat belts specifically, as a Vet, I’ve seen what happens when an un-belted pet is in an accident. Around 5000 dogs a year in Australia are injured or killed from falling from a moving vehicle, according to RSPCA stats.
The RSPCA can also issue fines under “The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act”. If an unrestrained animal is injured, you could face up to 6 months jail and $5,500 in fines.
So “click-clack, front and back” (including the crate if you’re using one). Most pet stores sell harnesses that you simply slide a belt through and fasten as normal.
“What” to take on holidays with your pets?
1. Make a pet travel bag.
Like kids, the more familiar a pet is with their environment, the less stress. A pet travel bag makes life easy – but be sure to pack their everyday stuff that they know.
Leashes, toys, bowls, jackets, kitty litter, food and medications all in one place means less time looking for things – you can check at a glance.
Most importantly, being plenty of food and water for the whole stay. Getting to a new destination and finding out they don’t have your pet’s regular food can be a problem.
2. Medications and parasite-preventatives.
Your holiday destination may have different nasties to home, and your current protection regime may not cover everything you need. A good example is people travelling to coastal towns and not having paralysis tick prevention, simply because you live inland or a non-paralysis tick area.
Across is a map of where Paralysis ticks are in Australia (covered by all canine FleaMail plans), but call your Vet quickly as there may be other parasites to consider for your particular pet.
3. Plan your travel route around pee stops.
Knowing your route matters, like where dog parks and rest stops are along the way. Your pup needs a break about once an hour to stretch, have a drink and relax a little – even for 5 minutes. So knowing where there are a few stops along the way makes life a lot easier.
Pets also have much smaller bladders than people, and many have faster metabolisms. While a person can “hold it” while travelling for long distances, cats and dogs often cannot. Remember to stop!
And NEVER leave them alone at a campsite or in the car, even for 5 minutes. Dogs and cats can overheat (or worse) in no time, and get nervous in a new environment without you around.
Your Aussie Pet Travel Checklist:
After you feel your pet is comfortable on short trips, and you’re ready to venture a bit further (with your pet travel bag). Simply follow this pet checklist – and be sure to stop every hour or so for them while driving so they can answer nature’s call!
- Food, enough for the whole stay
- Water and familiar bowls
- Familiar blankets
- Familiar toys
- Medications and Preventatives
- Litter box, litter or poop bags
- Brushes and grooming supplies
- Car harnesses and tracking / council tags
- Spare leads and collars if you have them
… Happy adventures!!