This year road trips are a lot more common with holiday goers staying more local and driving a few hours to destinations instead of heading interstate or overseas. The good news is this means your pet might be able to come so we wanted to give you our best tips for road trippin with your favourite four-legged mate!
1) Trip prep
It goes without saying that a little bit of planning can make a big difference! Check with your vet that their vaccinations are up to date and preventatives aren’t due (see below). Make sure your pet is comfortable with their form of restraint (whether it be a carrier or harness). If it’s a carrier leave it out in the house so they become accustomed to it.
On the day of your trip make sure you take your time. Get the air-conditioning pumping in the car prior to putting the pet in so it’s nice and cool and be sure to spray some pheromones 15 minutes prior (see below!).
If it’s a long trip be sure to plan for pet-friendly stops. Most dogs will require a good stretch of their legs and time to toilet every 2-3 hours. It’s also worth offering them a small amount of water so have a bowl and water bottle in easy reach. For cats this is a little trickier but if you can stop somewhere (e.g. a friend’s place) they’d probably appreciate the chance to toilet and stretch. If you need to stay overnight somewhere on route be sure to check they accept pets and have adequate facilities.
2) Pheromones & dealing with anxiety
Does your cat meow constantly in the car? Does your dog pant heavily and get restless? Have you received a not-so-lovely foul-smelling vomit/poo/wee present in the back seat? A lot of pets don’t like the car and this can be an anxious experience for them. We strongly recommend the use of pheromone sprays which can alleviate some of these anxieties. Spray Adaptil (dogs) or Feliway (cats) on a towel or blanket 15 minutes prior to leaving and re-spray every 2-3 hours. Other forms of natural calming products are also available such as Zylkene supplements. We sell all of these products so please speak to our staff for more information.
If you’ve got time you can also desensitise your pet to car trips by gradually, with positive reinforcement getting them used to it. For example, get your dog used to sitting in a car turned off (supervised) first for a few days. Give them treats and pats and get them out if they are anxious and reward them if they are calm. If they stay calm next step is sitting in the car with it turned on. Once they are comfortable with this go around the block gradually building to longer trips. By establishing a positive association they are much more likely to be calm for your road trips.
Some pets require a little additional medicinal assistance to reduce their anxiety so please speak to us if you feel this is the case. Be warned the use of medication can take some trial & error so worth investigating well in advance where possible.
Some pets get car sick. This can be different to anxiety as they are calm but very nauseas. Medications are available for this so please speak to your vet.
Finally be aware of your car tunes! Studies have shown pets prefer calm, gentler music so maybe hold off on the heavy metal. If they are stressed classical radio is our recommendation (if you’re a fan!).
3) Preventatives & Vet care.
We recommend protection against fleas, ticks, worming and heartworm and this is all the more important when travelling as you never know what nasties might be lurking. Tick are of particularly big concern for any coastal destinations so be sure to know the symptoms of tick paralysis and how to spot a tick. Your vet can recommend a good preventative product.
It’s always worth checking what the local vet care situation is. Make sure you know the closest local vet and their opening hours as well as a back up plan in case of a vet emergency. A simple google search should do the trick.
Spring & Summer means snakes are out and about. If you are heading rurally be on the lookout! Snake bites are an absolute emergency in pets.
4) Car restraint
With regards to car travel, NSW Law states that a pet cannot travel on the driver’s lap and if on the back of a ute it must be tethered. Restraint beyond this is at the owner’s discretion but NSW Police can prosecute under the Prevention of Cruelty Act if the pet is injured as a result of an accident. Because of this we recommend small dogs and cats are restrained in carriers and large dogs are restrained behind cargo nets or by wearing a harness.
5) Consider not taking them
Sometimes you might not be able to take your pet with you. We have a large boarding facility available if you’d like your pets left in safe hands. For more information or help picking a pet boarding facility read Finding the right boarding facility for your pet.