Travelling with pets

If you are planning a holiday with your pet this summer, you’re in for some good fun! But before you set off, there are a few things you need to consider. If you are travelling to a new environment, you may find your pet reacting to new insects, plants and allergens. In the warmer states, your pet may also be at risk from animals such as snakes, stingers, cane toads and jellyfish. Before you travel, contact a vet in the area you are travelling to and find out potential risks, common parasites and recommended vaccinations or medications.

Going north

Queensland, Northern Territory and Northwest Australia tend to have more humid conditions that encourage the growth of yeast and bacteria. This can bring on skin and ear conditions. Sunburn can be a danger, particularly on the ears, eyes and bellies of dogs that are sunbakers. Most vets sell a pet-friendly UV cream, which you can apply daily. Parasites also become more prevalent the further north you go, so it’s a good idea to administer preventative medicine before you travel. Below is a list of common parasites you may need to watch for:

  • Heartworm
  • Tropical Hookworm
  • Paralysis Ticks
  • Leptospira
  • Fleas

Seek veterinary advice before you set off and make sure you have adequate supplies of medication to last you the whole trip.

Travelling by car

A car can be a risky place for a pet, with temperatures getting extremely high on hot days. As animals tend to dehydrate much quicker than humans, ensure you have regular drink stops. Birds are very sensitive to extremes, so try to keep them away from direct sunlight and the air conditioning vent. If you are travelling by car, it is important your pet is appropriately restrained. For dogs, fitted guards in wagons and four-wheel drives are ideal. Alternatively a cage can be used, or harnesses that attach to the seatbelts. Cats should be secured in a cage or carrier (with litter box). Birds are happiest in their normal cage, however you will first need to remove any toys or swings that could injure them during motion. All boxes or cages should be strapped in with a seatbelt and out of direct sunlight.

Like humans, some cats and dogs get carsick. While medication can assist with this, we also recommend you try and acclimatise your pet to the car by taking them on a few short trips close to home.

Travelling by plane

If you are travelling by plane, you will need to have your pet thoroughly examined by a vet and approved for travel. Dogs and cats will usually go in cargo (except for seeing-eye dogs, which are allowed in the cabin). Sedation is generally not recommended, as side effects may be unpredictable at high altitudes. Most birds will settle into a dark carrying container well, and seem to remain calm in the dark of a hold with the gentle humming of the motors.

Tips for a safe trip

  • Learn about the area you are travelling to – the potential risks and common parasites
  • Ensure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date
  • Order enough medication and treatments for the entire trip
  • Make sure your pet can be identified (by both collar and microchip)
  • Pack a pet first-aid kit, including very dilute antiseptic (betadine) and a clean bandage
  • If you are travelling north, consider clipping long hair coats before you go