It’s no secret we’re a nation of animal lovers, but did you know that as a population, we’re actually outnumbered by our pets? According to the RSPCA, there are over 29 million pets in Australia, with dogs proving the favourite, (40%) followed by cats (27%). They’re part of the family so it’s no surprise that where we go, our pets go too – whether it’s a quick trip to the shops or on family holidays. So, we’ve dug deep and fetched some top tips to help keep your furry friends safe and secure when you’re on the move.
Staying safe on the road
Some dogs love the car, others aren’t so keen. Your pet’s enjoyment of any trip in the car will largely come down to how secure they feel when you’re on the move. Regardless of their size, dogs should be harnessed or restrained for their safety and yours (especially those loving souls who’d prefer to sit on your lap in the front, even when you’re driving). If you needed to brake heavily or swerve to avoid a collision, an unharnessed animal could become a projectile and injure themselves and other passengers.
Vehicle restraints for dogs are widely available and there’s a range of styles to choose from. Many car manufacturers offer pet harnesses as an optional extra with new cars, or you can find generic-fit options at pet supply stores. Some attach to your car’s existing seat belts while others attach with a buckle that clips directly into the seat belt. Most can be used in both the back seat and boot space in an SUV or station wagon, with the restraints then clipping to your dog’s collar or harness to secure them.
Then there’s our feline friends. While some cats tolerate car travel, most don’t enjoy it, so many cat owners find that a travel crate is the safest way to transport them on essential outings like vet appointments.
Plan your pit stops
When you’re on the road for any length of time, the recommendation is to stop every two hours to take a break and stretch your legs. The same goes for your pets. Give them a chance to relieve themselves regularly to avoid any unpleasant accidents. Pull over somewhere safe to minimise the risk of them running onto the road and remember to pack their lead or harness so you can keep them close to you in an unfamiliar environment. (This goes for cats, too.)
A mobile water kit is another on-the-go essential. It doesn’t have to be fancy, in fact a clean plastic takeaway container and a bottle of water (in case you can’t find a tap) is all you really need to help keep your pal hydrated.
And of course, never leave any animal alone in a car for any length of time. The internal temperature of cars can rise quickly even in mild weather, and heat distress can kill animals in a matter of minutes.
‘Paws’ to update your pet admin.
If you’re taking your dog with you on holidays, take the time before you go to make sure their microchip details are up to date. There are six different microchip registries in Australia, so check whether yours is recognised nationally, not just in your state. This way, if your pet should wander off while you’re away you’ll both be able to be located and, hopefully, reunited quickly.
The other thing to consider is pet insurance. If your pet has ever had an accident, you’ll know that vet bills can add up quickly. NRMA Insurance offers a Pet Lover’s pack that can be added as an option onto your home contents insurance to protect your pet as one of the family.
Finally, we’ve put together a quick and easy checklist to help make packing for a trip with your pet a breeze. Once you’ve ticked these off, you and your best friend will be ready to take on the open road and any adventure that comes your way.
- Their lead and harness – with plenty of poop bags so you can pick up after them.
- Bedding or a travel crate to sleep in.
- Food and water bowls, plus enough of their regular food to last the time away. (Don’t forget the can opener!)
- Bottles of water.
- Their favourite ball or toy.
- A spare towel in case they have a swim or need a bath.
- Any regular medications and put your vet’s number in your phone just in case.