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What do I need to know about taking my dog on a road trip with my family?

Take some time to prepare for your road trip with your pet so that your holiday is safe and relaxed for both of you. Following are some basic points to keep in mind when taking your dog on holiday with you:

  • Make sure your dog is microchipped and that your contact details are up to date and recorded on the microchip register. There are 6 microchip registers in Australia, make sure the one you and your dog are recorded on is recognised nationally (and not just in your state). If your register is only state-based it’s a good idea to also register on a national register  This is very important so that you can be contacted if your dog is lost at any point (including interstate). Also attach an ID tag with your contact details on it to your dog’s collar. If your dog has to be registered in your state, also make sure their registration is up to date.
  • Check the laws that apply to transporting dogs by road in the relevant states. Check the state Road Traffic Authority (or equivalent) Road Rules.
  • Make sure that your dog is healthy enough to travel and that all of their vaccinations, worming and flea treatment is up to date before setting off. If your pet takes any prescription medication make sure that you have enough to see you through the holiday. Talk to your vet for advice including paralysis tick prevention (see article below).
  • Before you leave for your trip you will need to ensure your dog will be comfortable and safe during the trip.
  • Vehicle restraints for dogs are widely available and include restraints that either attach to existing seat belts or have buckles that clip directly into the seat belt. Generally, restraints may be attached to the dog’s collar or harness. Some groups advocate the use of pet transport containers or crates (appropriately secured within the car).  Transport containers should enable the animal to lie down comfortably in a natural position, stand and sit erect, turn around and stretch with clearance.
  • It is a good idea to make sure that your dog is used to travelling by car before you set off.
  • Never leave your dog unattended in a car. Dogs can die very quickly from heat stress, even in mild weather.
  • Remember to stop for plenty of toilet breaks during your road trip to avoid toileting accidents in the car and time for on-leash exercise outside of the vehicle, in a safe and secure area. Even the most well-trained dog can become exuberant and unpredictable in a new, exciting environment. Keep your dog on a leash when in an unfamiliar environment so that they are secure if 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.


Things you should pack for your dog are:

  • Your pet’s regular food and treats. Don’t forget a can opener if your dog eats tinned food.
  • Bedding and/or a travel crate to sleep in.
  • Food and water bowls. Always carry enough bottles of fresh water in case you can’t find a tap.
  • Collar/harness and leash.
  • Your dog’s favourite toy(s).
  • Grooming equipment including a towel in case your dog gets wet.
  • a ‘pooper scooper’ and plastic bags to clean up after your dog.
  • any required medications and a first aid kit.

To find pet friendly accommodation it’s easiest to start by doing some online research for pet friendly places.

Also Read

Updated on June 24, 2021
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