1. Make sure your pet is buckled in
In most states, travelling with an improperly restrained pet can result in a fine and up to 3 demerit points. More importantly, should you have a crash, your pet can end up getting seriously hurt. They can even form a projectile and end up hitting you or someone else in the car.
Even though your dog may be wearing a car harness, you may be shocked to know that most of these harnesses do very little to protect your pet during a collision or sudden stop. Crash tests show that many common car restraints either snapped at the plastic buckle or had its material rip – and failed at preventing the dog from flying forwards. This video shows some good examples:
The only range of pet carriers and harnesses that are crash-tested and proven to keep your pet safe during a collision or sudden stop are made by Sleepypod. Safety features include three points of seatbelt contact to reduce movement, automotive grade seatbelt webbing and ballistic nylon exterior construction. The pet carrier converts into a snuggly bed at home, which makes travel more pleasant – especially for cats – as they’re already used to sleeping in the ‘bed’.
2. Keep your pet cool in the car on hot days
Remember when travelling during hot weather that the car can heat up to fatal temperatures very quickly, even if parked in the shade with the windows down. Dogs are not able to cool down quickly and can only pant, not sweat. Cats will rarely pant and must seek shade to cool down. Panting uses lots of energy and can actually cause that internal body temperature to rise even higher, particularly in snub-nosed dogs like pugs and bulldogs.
So consider what you will need to do when you stop the car. Carry lots of water so you can wet your pet down if they overheat and plant to tie up your dog in a shady spot under a tree if you need to pop inside for petrol or lunch.
3. Crate-train your pet prior to travelling
Crate training for both dogs and cats gives you a way to acclimatize them to a home away from home.
For cats, leave that carrier out for a couple of weeks before you travel, place some food, Feliway and a nice comfy towel inside and let your pet curl up in there for a sleep. Over time the carrier will smell a bit more like home, so when they are put inside for travel it will be much less stressful.
Dogs also do well with crate training and a nice big crate provides somewhere secure you can put them if staying in a hotel on the way. Even places that don’t advertise as pet friendly will sometimes take pets that are quiet and crated while inside the room.
4. Don’t forget to bring parasite control
Remember that different areas may have different types of parasites. For example, if you are heading north to coastal areas along the east coast of Australia, paralysis ticks are around during the warmer months. Bravecto is a new flavoured chew for dogs that works for 3 months for paralysis ticks and is safe to use with all other flea and worming preparations. If your pet is due for worming and flea control, make sure you bring it with you or give the dose a little earlier before you go. If your pet is over the age of 7 years, a check-up is always a good idea before you go away. If your pet gets anxious or carsick, this is also a great chance to chat to one of our vets about medications that are useful.
5. Have fun!
Long can rides can be boring. Look at ways to make it more fun for your pet. Bring boredom-busting toys with you to keep your pet occupied while you’re on the road. Take regular breaks and go for a short walk. Find out if they are any fenced dog parks along your route and throw a ball around for a while.