With many of us travelling by road this summer, either by necessity or for a holiday, you may be thinking about whether to take your dog (or perhaps you need to take your dog).
If you do have your dog with you, it's important to take some time to prepare so that your trip is safe, relaxing and enjoyable for you both.
Is your dog microchipped?
Before taking your dog on a road trip with you, make sure that they are microchipped and that your contact details are up to date and recorded on the microchip register.
There are six microchip registers in Australia - make sure the one you and your dog are recorded on is recognised nationally (and not just in your state), so that you can be contacted if your dog goes missing at any point.
You should also attach an ID tag with your contact details to your dog's collar.
Is your dog healthy?
Make sure that your dog is healthy enough to travel and that they are up to date with all of their vaccinations, worming and flea treatment before going on your road trip.
Talk to your vet for advice about keeping your pet healthy while you are on holiday, including paralysis tick prevention and any advice specific to the location to which you'll be travelling.
Before you leave, you will need to ensure that your dog will be comfortable and safe during the trip.
Vehicle restraints for dogs are widely available; these should have passed safety tests and attach securely to a properly fitted harness and to the vehicle as directed by the manufacturer (usually by attaching to existing seat belts or via buckles that clip directly into the seat belt).
Pet transport containers or crates are also widely available, and must be appropriately secured within your car.
Transport containers should enable your pet to lie down comfortably in a natural position, stand and sit up, turn around and stretch with clearance. More information about restraining your dog when travelling is available on our Knowledgebase.
What should I pack for my dog?
At a minimum, you should pack: your dog's regular food and treats; bedding and/or a travel crate; food and water bowls (always carry enough bottles of fresh water in case you can't find a tap); a collar or harness and leash; your dog's favourite toys; grooming equipment including a towel in case your dog gets wet; a 'pooper scooper' and plenty of plastic bags to clean up after them; any required medications as well as a first aid kit.
...ensure that your dog will be comfortable and safe during the trip.
It is a good idea to make sure that your dog is used to travelling by car before you set off on your trip.
Check the Road Traffic Authority (or equivalent) road rules that apply to transporting dogs by road in the relevant states.
Never, ever leave your dog unattended in a car - dogs can die very quickly from heat stress, even in milder weather or if the car is in the shade.
It's also important to remember to stop for plenty of toilet breaks and some on-leash exercise in a safe, secure area during your road trip.
Always keep your dog on leash when in an unfamiliar environment in case they take fright at any unfamiliar sights or sounds.
If possible, have the contact details of the local vet at your end destination or vet clinics along the way (if it's a long trip) at hand in case you need to make an appointment or in the event of an emergency.
To learn more about preparing your pet for a road trip, visit the RSPCA's Knowledgebase.
Safe travels and happy holidays.