The ultimate guide to travel as a pet owner

As a newfound pet owner (see our cute pup helping us pack above ?), I understand, the prospect of taking a holiday can be stressful: do you take your pet with you, or do you trust someone else to care for them?

Check out these tips to make your decision easier, and help you (and your best friend) prepare for your trip smoothly.

If you decide to take your pet on holiday with you, here are a few pointers:

  • Road trip rules: If you’re planning a road trip, you’ll need to find out what road rules apply in the relevant state or territory regarding travelling with animals in the car, such as whether an animal restraint is required. Of course, remember to never leave your pet unattended in a car—the SPCA advises that heat stress can kill, even in mild weather. Dr Andrew Spanner from The Walkerville Vet says stops along the way are a must. “I recommend stopping every two hours at a pet-friendly spot, so your pet can go to the toilet and stretch their legs. And you can stretch yours too!”

    Our puppy’s first road trip!
  • Sky-high concerns: If you’re travelling by air, things can be a little more complicated. First of all, consider if your pet is suited to air travel—are they likely to cope well in a travel container of some kind, for a number of hours, unsupervised? Airports and planes are stressful, noisy environments that may be overwhelming for an elderly or frail pet, or overstimulating for a puppy. You’ll need to make sure your container complies with International Air Transportation Association standards, and it’s a good idea to allow them to explore the container at home before the trip. Contrary to what many people assume, most vets do not recommend sedating your pet when you fly, and many airlines won’t allow sedated animals to board.
  • Holiday health: Do a quick online search of vets or animal hospitals in and around your destination, in case of emergency. Also, make sure your pet is microchipped, and that the microchip is registered on the national database. “Your dog should be wearing a collar with your contact details on it,” advises Dr Spanner. “If your pet doesn’t usually wear a collar, have a few trial runs before the holiday so they have a chance to get used to it.”
  • Accommodation tips: It goes without saying that not all hotels are pet-friendly but it pays to do some research and find the best options for your destination. You might be surprised! The Ultimo Hotel in Sydney, for example, welcomes pets weighing in at 20kg or less and even has a private courtyard for your furry friend to enjoy.

If you decide to leave your furry friend at home instead, there are a couple of options to consider so you can enjoy your holiday while knowing your pet is in safe hands:

  • Vet your pet sitters: If a friend or family member isn’t available to look after Fido, the best way to find a reliable and trustworthy pet sitter is through word of mouth. Ask friends with pets for referrals, or put a call-out to your network through social media. Local pet sitters generally have Facebook pages to explore, complete with reviews and comments to give you a good gauge. You could also ask on a local buy, sell and swap group if anyone in your neighbourhood has a sitter they would recommend.
  • Boarding facilities: Again, reviews and recommendations from friends and family are invaluable. Arrange to visit the facility beforehand, and inspect the conditions yourself. Ask about their policies and procedures regarding food and water, exercise and bathing the animals, as well as whether they have a vet on call in case of emergency. Dr Spanner warns that animals can become anxious, sick and lose weight if placed in an unsuitable boarding facility. “Taking your pet’s own familiar bedding, bowls and toys is a great way to make them feel more at home.” There’s heaps of sites out there, but Pawshake could be a good one to start with!
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