Travelling with our pets does require some extra preparation but there are a few things that you can do before your trip that will help you and your furry family members relax and enjoy your holiday.
Where are you heading on holiday?
Confirming that your pet will be welcome at your destination, whether it is a caravan park or a bush camp, and being aware of any pet-related requirements before arrival will ensure that your stay is as smooth and relaxing as possible.
Things to check with your accomodation provider include whether you’ll need to:
- provide your pet’s vaccination record
- keep your pet secure or on a leash at all times
- confine your pet to pet-restricted areas
Destination can also be relevant to your pet’s health. You may be holidaying in an area with certain diseases or parasites that you don’t have at home and are not familiar with. A couple of examples are ticks and the new tick-borne disease Ehrlichiosis in northern Australia (see more info here) or Leptospirosis outbreaks during the wet season up north or over east after floods or mouse plagues (see more info here).
Visit your veterinarian
It’s always worth taking your pet for a check up and a chat with your veterinarian at least 2-6 weeks prior to any travel. This will allow your vet to give your pet a thorough health check and ensure your pet is up to date with vaccinations and worming treatment, along with discussing which parasite preventatives are best for your pet for the location you’re heading to.
The main reason why it’s best to do this at least 2 weeks before your planned departure is that if your pet is due for a vaccination booster then this will allow their immune system time to respond to the vaccine and be at peak strength whilst you’re away.
If your pet is well overdue for vaccinations then please see your vet at least 6 weeks before leaving as your pet may require 2 booster shots 4 weeks apart to ensure they are protected.
Your vet will also be able to check that your pet’s microchip is scannable and you can check online to ensure that their microchip registration contact details are still up to date, just in case they go walk about whilst you’re away.
My pet has a health condition, is it safe for him/her to travel?
Just because your pet is older or takes regular medications for an ongoing health condition, doesn’t mean they can’t come on holiday with you. Chat to your veterinarian about your pet’s individual situation and how it can be managed away from home.
If you’re planning a short trip and your pet is on any regular medications then ensuring you have enough to last until you get home will save the stress and worry of suddenly running out halfway through your holiday. Most veterinarians are comfortable to prescribe medication to last 3-6 months in a regular patient with a stable health condition.
If you’re planning a much longer trip, then estimate when you will be near a town with a veterinary clinic before any medications run out, rather than waiting for the bottle to be empty, so your pet doesn’t go without his or her medication. Planning ahead is extra important if your pet has unique medication that may not be regularly stocked and needs to be ordered specially for you. A veterinarian who has not seen your pet before will usually request that you book a consultation with them to examine your pet and discuss their needs prior to prescribing any medications, even if they have been on that medication for a long time and are stable. Although this is a common source of annoyance, the consultation and health check are not about charging you more money, it is one of our legal requirements as veterinarians prescribing medications that we need to have examined an animal directly before prescribing or dispensing medications for him/her, so please be understanding even though it may be inconvenient.
Thinking ahead also applies to stocking up on any prescription or special pet foods that you may not be able to easily buy on the road. A lot of the fresh or raw pet meals can be difficult to access in remote places and you may have limited fridge or freezer space so a gradual alteration of your pet’s usual diet may be needed before heading off.
What if my vet doesn’t know what is best for the area that I’m travelling to?
To be fair, veterinarians tend to be experts in the things they see all the time, so if a particular disease or parasite doesn’t occur in their immediate area then they may not know all the details about it or stock the best preventatives. Some vaccinations and medications are only stocked by veterinarians in the areas where they are applicable, the Leptospirosis vaccine is a good example as different strains are found in different areas. In these cases, calling a local vet in the area you plan to holiday in will allow you to factor in any extras that may be needed to help keep your pet safe. Dr Tania has experience working in many different parts of Australia so will be able to answer your questions or point you in the right direction – send her a message or email.
What about the weather?
If you’re heading to a destination that’s hotter than your usual climate, a visit to your local groomer for a holiday haircut before you leave will help your pet cope with the warmer temperatures. Heat stress can be a real problem for all species so you can find more information and tips on heat stress here.
If your pet needs to adjust to a colder destination then a dog bed so they can rest off the ground, extra blankets or bedding and a coat might keep your best friend more cosy.
What if something happens to my pet whilst I’m away?
There are a few ways that you can be prepared in case something happens to your pet whilst you’re away:
- Carry a pet first aid kit and know how to use it, especially if you’re planning to be off grid – grab our essential Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit here.
- Keep a copy of the phone number of your usual vet along with that of the local vet near your destination.
- Subscribe to peace of mind. Telehealth consultations, over phone, video or text chat, allow a vet to help you quickly assess and offer advice for any concerns that you may have for your pet whilst away from home. Dr Tania provides single telehealth consultations for $35 and a subscription telehealth service, providing travelling pets to access to two telehealth consultations for just $50 every 6 months – sign up for peace of mind here. Examples of common problems we’re asked via telehealth include pain relief options, how to treat diarrhoea, if something their dog has eaten is toxic, whether an injury requires further treatment at a veterinary hospital or talking an owner through some life-saving first aid but Dr Tania is happy to answer questions about anything about your pet that you may be concerned about.
What should you pack for your pet?
A great place to start is looking at the items that they use every day, like:
- Collar with a tag showing their name and your contact number
- Lead or harness
- Food and water bowls
- Any medications
- Your pet’s usual food (and a can-opener if needed)
- Treats or training aids
- Dog bed, crate or blanket
- Poop bags
- Grooming equipment (like brushes or shampoo)
Extra, travel-related items might include:
- Vaccination record including dates of last worming and flea/tick treatment
- Phone numbers for your vet and a vet near your destination
- First aid kit
- Car restraint (crate, dog seatbelt or harness)
- Lead extension rope or portable fencing (to secure your pet by your caravan or campsite)
- (if your destination has sharp prickles or rocks) then dog boots are very handy
- A coat (if you’re headed somewhere cold)
- An appropriate muzzle (if holidaying near areas with baits, like national parks, farms or stations)