A road trip holiday with a dog is as Australian as it gets! Going on a holiday and leaving the family dog at home has become a thing of the past. Dogs play a significant role in our families, and the thought of leaving our precious dogs at home is not an option for many of us.
Holidaymakers spend hours planning and researching the “best” driving route, but when it comes to travelling with a dog, many of us have no idea of the common pitfalls pet owners encounter on the road with a dog. So, what pet essentials does your dog need and what should you consider when deciding to travel within Australia with a dog?
Travel Australia With Dogs Facebook Group
Who better to ask than other experienced dog owners who love nothing more than road-tripping with their furry best friends. Travel Australia with Dogs is a Facebook group of adventurous people exploring Australia with their dogs. Travelling Australia with a dog isn’t always easy, still, the group is working together and highlighting places to stay, camp, bushwalk and explore to help others travel around Australia with dogs easier. With years of travelling experience with a dog, you are sure to learn something worthwhile here.
Not only will you and your dog be surrounded by Australia’s natural beauty, but you’ll also see amazing natural wonders and historical sites that make every Australian feel special. Taking a road trip with a furry companion is also an excellent way to experience various activities and create lifelong memories. No matter what type of trip you are planning, here is a list of essential things every person who wants to travel with their dog should know.
Feels Like Home
Firstly, it’s a good idea to get your dog use to the car before taking a more extended trip. You also need to take into consideration your dog’s health and comfort level. Is your dog well enough to travel? Does your dog get carsick or suffer from anxiety or noise phobias? Can your dog get in and out of a car, caravan, campervan or motorhome without trouble? Unfortunately, sometimes it is best to leave your dog at home in the care of a professional pet sitter or accredited kennel.
Pet Travel Apps
There are plenty of excellent pet-friendly apps that can help you when on the road with your dog. These are some of the most popular pet-friendly apps used in Australia.
First Aid For Pets – The app offers useful information when a pet owner is in doubt and helps ensure you are prepared to deal with any type of dog emergency. It lists emergency steps, clinical signs and can connect you with local vet clinics. Australian users can download the ‘First Aid for Pets’ app for free from the iTunes store.
BarkCam – A dog is part of the family, so it’s not rocket science that we want to take photos of them. But getting a good shot of your dog can be harder than taking a photo of your toddler. Meet BarkCam the dog-friendly (camera with sounds) App that helps get your dog’s attention. This simple tool is perfect for photographing your dog and can help you get better photos of your kids. There is a range of sounds to choose from to peak your dog’s interest. These sounds include dog barking, whistle dog call, squeaky toys or upgrade to one of the premium sound packs. The sounds make dogs look straight into the frame. You can add text, filters and stickers, plus share your dog’s pics on social networks and with friends. Available in android and ios.
iKibble Free – Dogs love food and rely on us to provide them with fresh food that is safe for them to eat. But, some foods are toxic to dogs, and this is where iKibble comes to the rescue. The App’s built-in search feature allows you to browse all food types by category and check whether that food is safe for your dog to eat. Finally, a food app that offers pet owners some peace of mind.
WikiCamps Australia – Find all the information you need about caravan and camping sites, roadside rest areas, points of interest, free campsites in National Parks and whether campsites are accessible for caravans or camper trailers. The relevant information is displayed as symbols, so you immediately know whether the campsite is pet-friendly, powered, has water, showers, toilets and Wi-Fi.
App users can share useful information like photos of campsites and facilities and there is a WikiCamps forum too. The place where you can ask questions and share experiences with other people who use the app. The App is constantly updated, and issues are dealt with quickly. Like all Apps, there are some downfalls, so always check whether your accommodation is pet-friendly beforehand and offers the facilities you need to enjoy for stay.
Dog On Board
Rest Stops – Make frequent rest stops so both of you can stretch your legs. The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) suggests stopping every two to three hours in a safe and secure area to allow your dog to get out of the vehicle, have a drink and chance to go to the bathroom. Dogs can become unpredictable and excited (even well-trained dogs) in an unfamiliar environment, so keep your dog secure on a leash just in case it takes fright from an unusual sight or sound.
Toilet Training – Training your dog to pee and poop on command is helpful when your opportunities for breaks are limited on long trips. Of course, not all dogs will do this.
Dog Car Restraints – Always restrain your dog when travelling in a vehicle, whether with a harness or in a crate. Car restraints for dogs are widely available and either attach to existing seat belts or have buckles that clip directly into the seat belt. Generally, vehicle restraints attach to your dog’s collar or harness.
Dog Crates – Some dog owners advocate the use of dog travelling crates. Dog crates that are appropriately secured within the car offers additional pet safety. However, a pet crate should allow your dog enough room to lie down comfortably in a natural position, stand and sit up, stretch out and turn around with ease. Also ensure there is enough airflow, ventilation and visibility. Try a snap-in water bowl for crates to ensure your dog is getting enough water.
For dogs travelling in the rear seat of a car, you can use a front seat barrier and hammock seat cover to restrict access to the front seats. These products can be used in combination with a harness and seat belt attachment for extra safety. Never allow your dog to travel in the car boot.
Dog Road Safety in Australia – If travelling interstate, keep in mind that each State and Territory in Australia have different road rules regarding restraining dogs. Some States allow you to just have your dog restrained, others require a harness, and if they are in the car, they are classified as occupying a seat. In NSW, if a dog is injured because it was unrestrained, the owner can face hefty fines and jail time. If you want to learn more about the rules and regulations for car travel with your dog then click here.
Never Leave A Dog In A Vehicle – Dogs can die very quickly from heat stress even when parked in the shade. Never leave your dog unattended in a car, even in mild weather.
Dogs and Climate
Bear in mind that dogs feel the cold just like you. A dog coat is not only a fashion statement, but they also keep dogs warm on cold winter evenings and early mornings. If a designer coat isn’t up your alley, a hot water bottle, heated dog mat to travel blanket will do nicely. Should you likely encounter some rainy days, it’s worth investing in a waterproof dog jacket and some quick-drying microfibre towels. Click the link for more information and tips for keeping your dog safe in Australia this summer.
Some pet owners who regularly travel with their dogs carry a laminated A4 sheet with their emergency information. This sheet includes who to contact and instructions if a dog is in the vehicle. Dogs in car accidents are sometimes taken to an animal shelter rather than to the nearest vet for care. A nominated person will be authorised to collect and pay for any veterinarian expenses on behalf of the pet owner. Ensure you have the right level of roadside assistance that covers your dog’s transport and accommodation in the event of a breakdown or accident.
Your Dog’s Diet
When travelling, try to maintain your dog’s regular diet. Be mindful that in warmer weather, dog food has a higher risk of spoilage. Use a fridge or cooler to keep food cool and don’t leave dog food in a hot car. Dog foods high in fat are more likely to go off (since the fats can break down) and potentially make your dog sick. Store dog dry food and treats in airtight containers to avoid attracting snakes and other vermin.
Always Allow Your Dog Access To Clean Water
Your dog should always have access to cool, clean drinking water. It shouldn’t have to wait until the next pit stop to get a drink. There are hundreds of collapsible and stable pet travel water bowls on the market specifically designed to sit on the vehicle floor that won’t tip over or spill. Also, be aware that some dogs may not drink water that smells or tastes different from the water at home. If you suspect your dog is picky about the water, it drinks, consider carrying extra water from home, especially if you’re planning to be on the road for a long time. Most dogs gradually get accustomed to the taste of the water at their new destination. Take a dog water bottle with you, especially when out and unsure how long you will be walking.
Toads In Australia
Every year vets around Australia treat thousands of dogs who have been poisoned by cane toads. Hence why dogs should sleep indoors and be fed inside too. Toads love swimming in dog water bowls, and this is why food and water bowls should be kept safe indoors too.
Avoiding Dog Stomach Upsets
The last thing you want on a road trip is a dog with a stomach upset! Just like humans, dogs can suffer from traveller’s diarrhoea and pick up a vomiting bug. The most common cause of this type of illness is from scavenging. It’s natural for dogs to eat whatever they find — no matter how gross it may be. It’s your dog’s most basic impulse to explore the world with its mouth and eat and lick everything in its path.
When a dog eats something it shouldn’t, the consequence can be fatal, but usually, it causes the digestive tract to become inflamed and irritated. Muscles contract and speed the intestinal contents through the intestines. There is not enough time for the fluid to be absorbed into the body, explaining why vomiting and diarrhoea occurs. Many other things can cause an upset digestive system, including changes to your dog’s diet, unclean water, parasites, viruses, bacteria and more.
Lost and Stolen Pets
Having your dog microchipped is your best chance of getting your dog back if it gets lost or stolen. Attach a dog tag to your dog’s collar with your dog’s name and contact details. Remember to update your dog’s tag if you have moved and the same goes with the contact information associated with your dog’s microchip. You’ll be surprised how many people take the collars off their dogs whilst in caravan parks and campgrounds. Sadly pet theft is on the rise in Australia. Never leave your dog unattended – not even for just a few minutes.
Preventive Care For Dogs
Vaccination Record – Carry a copy of your dog’s vaccination record and list of medications. If your dog gets sick or needs to be boarded for a day or two, you will need to provide a copy of your dog’s vaccination records. Usually, a copy stored on your smartphone will suffice, but you can also keep a copy in your car glove box for safekeeping.
Pest Control – Make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations, worming and parasite control before you depart. Monthly 3-in-1 protection against multiple parasites such as heartworm, fleas and ticks are easy to administer and mess-free. Plus, your dog will love the taste of these meat flavoured chews.
Grooming – Travelling north or to a hot and humid location? Trim your dog’s fur to keep your pup cool and make it easier to find ticks. Microfibre towels are super absorbent, soft, durable and designed to dry in half the time. At last, no more soggy, smelly dog towels in the boot.
Dog Medical and First Aid Kit – No matter how much we strive to keep yourselves and our pets as safe as possible, accidents away from home can still happen – even to the most conscientious travellers. Some common dog injuries are the rupture of the cruciate ligament in the knee, paw cuts and burns, and ingestion of a foreign body and poisoning.
A dog-specific first aid kit gives you comprehensive medical solutions for your travelling fur buddy. They cater to the types of injuries dogs encounter mostly outdoors – primarily to their paws, with an assortment of dressings, bandages and tools like the splinter picker/tick removers plus antiseptic wipes/cream, antibiotic ointment and a dog first aid guide. Emergency blankets are ultralight and compact to carry in a backpack and one of the best survival tools around.
Poison 1080 Muzzle – None of us particularly like muzzling our dogs, but sometimes it’s essential for their protection. If you are not familiar with the poison 1080, I highly recommended you click on the link and read this article on the matter. The use of dog muzzles is the best means of preventing dogs from being poisoned. This will prevent them from scavenging carcases, baits and other toxic substances.
Dog Training Treats
A well-trained dog will be easier to manage on a road trip than a continuously misbehaving dog. Dog training and positive reinforcement techniques with yummy dog treats can give your dog incentive to be on its best behaviour. For example, when your dog first jumps into the car, give it a treat. This shows your dog that getting in the car without being coerced is what it’s supposed to do. If you stop at a rest area, and it goes to the bathroom, give him a treat. When your dog comes when it is called back into the car and jumps in, give it another treat.
Being persistent and consistent is the key to successful dog training and a more enjoyable life with a dog on the road. 100% Freeze-dried dog treats that are bite-sized are perfect for rewarding your dog frequently.
Local Council Dog Parks
When you arrive in a new city or town, an easy way to burn off your dog’s energy is a play at a local dog park. Importantly, make sure your dog is well behaved / well trained in public areas and can socialise with adults, children and other dogs. Parks are an excellent place for both of you to meet new friends. Local councils around Australia have local dog parks listed on their sites, and I’ve found them the most helpful.
Dog On A Leash
Having your dog on a leash will prevent your dog from trespassing on other peoples property during your walks. A leash also keeps your dog from jumping on people you encounter, ensuring that your pup has the chance of being properly introduced.
Dog Poop Bags
You don’t want to be caught without dog poop bags for roadside stops and visits to the local park. Being a responsible pet owners means cleaning up after your dog….every time! Did you know that poop bags are a good alternative for a pet water bowl? Especially when you forget to take one to the park on a hot day. Most parks have a water fountain, just open a new poop bag, roll down the edges and fill it up with water. A thirsty dog will be more than happy to drink from anything when they are dried out from playing in the heat!
Paw Protection For Dogs
If you plan to do some hiking with your dog, consider getting some protection for your dog’s paws. Innovative travel products are designed to fulfil the ever-changing needs and lifestyles of both dog and their parents. The next generation of travel accessories for your dog includes road shoes and socks that provide some protection when hiking, walking, running and hot sand. These products are extra-durable for outdoor adventures. Most dog shoes on the market are easy to put on and take off and made from weather-resistant materials suitable for wet and damp conditions.
Keep Insects Off Your Dog
Dog Mossie Head Net – Just like us, dogs hate mosquitos and suffer the same discomforts. You can help your dog avoid annoying mosquitoes and flies when camping or bushwalking with a nylon mosquito head net specifically for dogs. These mosquito nets will also help prevent your dog from eating harmful objects while allowing them to sniff, pant, play and drink as usual.
To protect yourself from mossies, check Ben’s InvisiNet Head Net. It offers lightweight over-the-head protection with ultra high-visibility screening. Barely-there, ultra-comfortable insect protection that won’t bug you and so shear even the bugs won’t see it coming. Suitable for dogs and the net can be safely secured under a dog collar.
Pet-Friendly Essential Oils
If your dog rejects wearing a mosquito net, try an all-natural insect repellent made entirely from plant-derived ingredients, such as Citronella Oil, Peppermint Oil, Broad-leafed Tea Tree Oil and Blue Mallee Eucalyptus Oil. These essential oils are proven to effectively repel mosquitoes, even for those of us and our dogs who find themselves a mosquito-magnet.
Snakes of Australia
There are around 600 venomous snakes worldwide; however, only 7% are deadly or able to significantly wound according to National Geographic. Snakes are more of a threat to dogs than humans; however, there are ways to keep your dog safe. Dogs are often bitten or killed by snakes because of their natural hunting instincts to chase snakes resulting in a snake biting a dog on the face or legs.
- Don’t leave dog food and water lying around.
- Store dry food and treats in airtight containers. Same goes for cat food and bird seeds.
- Keep grass low and clean up rubbish piles. (i.e. firewood)
- Keep your dog on a leash and avoid long grassy areas.
- Check areas where your dog sleeps and rests—snakes like quiet places to hide.
- Snakes are more active in the warmer summer months, especially around waterways.
- Close doors where snakes can slither in and keep tents zipped up tight.
If you suspect your dog has been bitten by a snake you should keep your dog quiet and calm and take to a vet immediately. A dog has the best chance of recovery when a dog is treated early. Some dogs make a full recovery within 48 hours. So act quick.
Keep your dog on a leash or use a long line for your dog safety as well as the safety of other holidaymakers and their pets. Dogs that are allowed to wander can get into all sorts of mischief such as lifting their leg of things they shouldn’t and scaring other guests who may not be dog people. Training your dog to walk on a leash in puppyhood is one of the best things you can teach your pup. However, it is even more important that your dog receives off-leash training, especially if you are an active pet owner who loves to exercise with a dog. Teaching your dog’s simple commands that he can obey can give you and your dog more freedom outdoors.
A long line is longer than an average leash and comes in various lengths. Using a long line gives your dog extra room to move and more freedom, whilst still keeping the dog safe and secure. Using a long line can help train your dogs for off-leash areas and the perfect solution for practising behaviours at a distance.
Make sure the long line you choose is appropriate for your dog’s temperament and body weight. It should be one continuous length, knot-free and light enough (i.e. 4mm nylon cord), not to drag or be annoying. Remember to look around for dangers and note how close you are to trees, roads, vehicles, people and other dogs.
A dog left unsupervised on a poorly erected long line can be injured or entangled. To minimise neck injuries, attach the leash to a well-fitted dog harness rather than a collar. Dogs can reach high speeds at the end of the leash, which is how most neck injuries occur.
Safe Play Area For Dogs
A portable fold-up dog pen only takes seconds to set up and provides a safe, comfortable play area for small to medium-sized pups. Pens are great for indoor and outdoor use and usually come in a handy carry bag for easy travel. Most travel playpens have mesh windows for airflow and visibility with a removable base/roof for easy access plus storage pockets and velcro straps to hold the door open for your dog. Perfect place to put your dog while you set up camp.
Dog Travel Aids
There is a massive range of backpacks, strollers and wagons designed for dogs that are a little precious or have mobility limitations. Don’t let your pet’s health issues stop you from seeing the best Australia has to offer.
Interlocking foam squares made of lightweight, durable material are useful dog travel mats and ideal in wet weather when you don’t want dirt and mud inside a camper or tent.
Dog Travelling Accessories
We all have favourite things that make us feel happy and connect us to our memories. Dogs are no different. Surrounding your dog with its favourite things will help relieve boredom, anxiety and other stresses on the road. Your dog’s favourite things are likely to be a comfy bed, plush toy, squeaker ball and food bowl!
Travelling with your dog has never been easier and more enjoyable than now. There are many excellent dog-friendly holiday homes, caravan and campsites across Australia – but not all do. Many hotel and restaurant websites list themselves as dog-friendly when, in fact, they are not. Be sure to pre-book pet-friendly accommodation, and double-check for pet restrictions at the parks, beaches and other attractions you plan to visit. A phone call or quick email can save you loads of time and frustration.
As well, there is an extensive range of travel essentials designed for dogs that travel. But before you set off into the sunset, consider these tips to make sure you and your pup have a fun and safe time on your next road trip. Remember your dog has no idea where it’s going, and this can result in some accidents and maybe more barking than usual. Be sure to pack some extra patience with their favourite toys and treats.
More Than Just A Facebook Group
A big thank you to all the members of Travel Australia With Dogs Facebook Group who shared their tips and tricks for travelling with a dog in Australia. It’s a great group, and I have learned valuable information here from other dog owners.