6 expert vet tips for travelling with your dog

Dog owners know that our four-legged friends are more than mere passengers on a road trip - they're happy tourists, willing photo subjects and instant conversation starters. Dr Katrina Warren explains how to take your best friend on a road trip.

By Dr Katrina Warren

As someone who's explored countless destinations in Australia with a four-legged friend in tow, I know the joys and challenges of hitting the road with a furry companion.

Road tripping with your pet requires careful planning to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey for you both.

Dr Katrina Warren travel tip 1: before you hit the road, hit the vet

Schedule a visit to your veterinarian to make sure that your pet is up-to-date on worming, flea control, tick prevention and vaccinations.

Your vet will check your pet's health status and give you tailored advice to fit their specific needs. Then you can stock up on any necessary medical supplies while you're there.

You can also ask your vet about the area you’re travelling to, especially to find out whether it’s an area where paralysis ticks could be a concern.

Check with your vet if they recommend any of the veterinary clinics along your travel route. Make a note of these and keep a list of emergency contacts, including your own veterinarian's number.

Dr Katrina Warren travel tip 2: check out pet-friendly accommodation and attractions

There’s an abundance of pet-friendly accommodation options around Australia, including holiday homes and campgrounds, but there are often strict rules that apply.

Some 'pet-friendly' accommodations have dog size restrictions, or rules about not leaving pets alone in the room or allowing them on the furniture.

If you book accommodation with a garden, ensure the property manager confirms it is fenced.

While many parks and beaches welcome pets, not all of them are off-leash or suitable for four-legged friends. National parks have strict pet regulations, with many not allowing pets at all or only permitting them in certain areas on a leash.

Dr Katrina Warren travel tip 3: make sure your pet has identity tags with your mobile number on it

It’s easy for pets to go missing when travelling so your pet's microchip details must be up to date.

Make sure they are wearing a current ID tag with a contact phone number, too.

Microchips are great for permanent identification, but the quickest way to be reunited is if your pet is wearing a physical ID tag.

Dr Katrina Warren travel tip 4: pack well for your pet

Packing well for your pet is as important as packing for yourself. Here's a checklist of essentials to bring:

●      Food, treats and water: pack enough food and water for the trip and portable bowls for feeding and drinking. You can't rely on being able to buy your particular food while you are on the road, so it's best to bring food with you to avoid tummy upsets from a sudden change in diet.

●      Home comfort items: bring your pet's favourite toys, blankets, and bedding to help them feel at ease during the journey.

●      Medication: bring an ample supply of any medication your pet is on, as well as any preventative medicines such as flea and tick control.

●      First aid kit: pack a basic first aid kit with items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, and tweezers in case of emergencies. If you are travelling to a paralysis tick area, pack a tick removal device (available from pet stores).

●      Poo bags: don't forget to bring waste bags for cleaning up after your pet during rest stops.

Dr Katrina Warren travel tip 5: stay safe in the car

When travelling by car, pets should be restrained in a carrier or harnessed to a seat belt. It is illegal to drive with a pet on your lap. Check the laws that apply in each state before you go - some states require pets to be restrained in the back seat.

Never leave your pet unattended in a car:

Even with the windows down, temperatures inside a parked car can quickly reach dangerous levels and kill or injure your pet.

Take regular breaks:

Stop every few hours to allow your pet to stretch their legs, have a toilet break, and some water.

Be mindful when leaving the car:

When stopping for breaks or exercise, check the pavement temperature with your hand to ensure it's not too hot. Always put your pet on a leash before they step out of the car so they can't panic and run away.

Dr Katrina Warren travel tip 6: don't let your dog roam off-leash on holidays

Even well-behaved pets can become disoriented or easily distracted in new environments, increasing the risk of getting lost or injured.

Always keep your pet securely leashed when exploring outdoor areas or taking walks for their safety and wildlife's safety.

Finally, please practise good pet etiquette wherever you go by cleaning up after your pet and disposing of waste.

It’s important to respect any state or council regulations regarding pets, and always be considerate of wildlife.

By following these simple guidelines and planning ahead, you will have a fun and rewarding travel experience with your beloved pet by your side.

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