By Lyndal Phillips
Is it time you and your dog took a road trip?
Do you feel the chill in the air? It must be about time for you to hitch up the caravan, hit the gravel and drive until the weather feels warmer. The carefree days of an endless summer further north await you. It’s going to be perfect.
Hang on. Just before you go … what are you going to do about your furry mate, Fido?
It doesn’t have to be all over for dear old Red Rover. Many pet dogs love a road trip and here are our top tips for enjoying a caravan trip with your dog.
Give your dog a few test runs
Most dogs have experienced brief car trips. But, when you hit the road for a caravanning holiday, your dog will need to be comfortable with being in the car for extended periods of driving time. Like humans, dogs can suffer from travel sickness too so make sure you give Fido a good few test runs beforehand.
In the months before you leave for your holiday, gradually increase the length of car trips with your furry friend. This practice time will help to prepare your dog for longer journeys.
Check your dog’s identity is up to date
There is an increased risk of your dog wandering away and becoming lost while you’re travelling. Those new smells are sniffingly irresistible!
Take a close look at your pet’s identity tag. Is it still clear and readable? Is the phone number current?
Before setting off, invest in a metal collar tag and include your pet’s name and your phone number in a clear font.
All registered dogs should be micro-chipped, and your dog would be scanned if found. So, make sure all details on that microchip are up to date so you can be easily contacted.
Check your dog’s veterinary treatments are up to date
While out adventuring your dog is going to meet other animal friends. Meeting new friends does increase the risk of catching diseases, and worms, so it is very important your dog is fully wormed, flea protected and vaccinated before you travel.
It is a good idea to carry copies of their vaccination certificates with you. It’s a much safer option than having to guess when a booster shot might be needed.
If you are visiting Tasmania, you need to have your dog treated for hydatid tapeworm 14 days before you go.
Restrain your dog comfortably and safely
When preparing your car for your journey, don’t forget to consider the safety of your dog. In the event of an accident, or sudden breaking, an unrestrained dog can become airborne and cause serious injury to itself, and other passengers.
There are numerous harnesses designed to keep your dog safe in the car. Make sure you fit the harness and use it when practising the extended car journeys with your dog, before you leave for your holiday.
Pack your dog’s first aid kit
When you prepare a first aid kit for the caravan, remember your dog too!
A first aid kit for your dog might include vitamins and medicines as well as a small grooming kit and shampoo. It’s a good idea to take the phone number of your vet, just in case you need to call for advice, or access to medical records.
Dog food supplies
You can purchase dog food on your travels, but it is a good idea to pack a supply of familiar food and treats for your fur baby. Supplementing new found food with old favourites can help avoid tummy upsets. Diarrhea on a road trip won’t be fun for anyone! At the same time, familiar tasting food might help your dog to feel calm and relaxed in ever changing environments.
If possible, do bring your dog’s own food and water bowls as this can be a great comfort when staying in unfamiliar places.
Try not to feed your dog prior to boarding, and remember some dogs can become carsick. It might be a good idea to cover seats with old towels or blankets, just in case!
Don’t forget the waste bags, most camping grounds enforce strict rules when it comes to cleaning up after your pet.
You wouldn’t want to leave home without your favourite pillow, and neither would your pooch!
Remember to pack familiar bedding, blankets and favourite toys for your dog. Consider the season and climates you will be travelling through. Will a doggy coat or pyjamas be required?
Research pet friendly destinations before you go
Dogs are generally not permitted in National Parks and Conservation Areas in Australia. Dogs are permitted in some State and regional parks, but it is always best to check the guidelines before you travel.
Below are state by state links to the websites of National Parks where dogs are permitted. Most require your dog to be on a lead and will remind you to clean up after your dog with fines imposed for failing to comply.
New South Wales
Where has your canine caravanned? What are your top tips for travel with dogs?