A family road trip wouldn't be the same without mans' best friend. Whether you're road tripping across town or setting off across the country, travelling with your pet can be a great experience for both petter and pet. So, if you're planning on hitting the road with your bud, there are a few things you need to know before you set off:
1. Safety is paramount
Not only is it illegal for pets to sit on drivers' laps, it also isn't safe, for you or your pet. It's important to keep your furry friend safe and secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. There are a variety of wire mesh, hard plastic and soft-sided carriers available. Whatever you choose, make sure it's large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in.
2. The Law
In all states across Australia, it is an offence to drive with your pet on your lap and if on a motorbike, your pet mustn't ride between the handlebars and the rider. Also, fines can exceed $400 and you can lose three points if caught and if an animal is injured as a result of being unrestrained, the fines and penalties increase dramatically under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, including jail time.
3. Don't leave your pet unattended in the car
Did you know that 1 out of 5 NRMA callouts in Winter are for pets locked in cars? Sadly, unattended pets die in locked cars each and every year. According to the RSPCA, you can lose your best mate in just six minutes, even if your windows are down or your car is in the shade. This is because, aside from through their foot pads, dogs don't sweat so they are highly susceptible to heatstroke. Fortunately, it's easy to prevent your pet experiencing heatstroke by ensuring you never leave them in a car unattended.
4. Head to the vet
Get your pet micro-chipped and/or update your contact details before you take off at your local vet. It's important to make sure your microchip register is recognised nationally if travelling interstate. While you're there, ensure your pet is up-to-date with all of its vaccinations and get the veterinarian to check that they're healthy enough to travel.
5. Get them used to the car
A car is a weird place for any pet, and can often be related to less-than-pleasant things like motion sickness, noise, or even that vet visit at the end of it. To get your furry friend used to car travel, it's best to take them on a few short trips first - gradually lengthening the time spent in the car. Be sure to pack a couple of blankets and even your pets favourite toy - the key is to make sure they're comfortable at all times. Relieving your pets stress about travelling in your car can also help with overcoming any motion sickness they may have.
6. Pack a travel bag
Just like you'd prepare to keep a child entertained on a long trip, you should pack a bag of necessities that your pet might need during the drive. The most important thing is to have plenty of food and water for your pet, as well as some treats to keep them happy throughout your journey. You'll want to take them out to stretch their legs at rest stops so remember to bring some doggy bags, and a lead.
7. Keep their head inside the vehicle
Despite the seeming biological imperative of every pet that's ever ridden in a car to stick its head out the window, it's actually a harmful habit. With your pet's head out the window, its eyes are exposed to dust, dirt, rocks and anything else that gets kicked up by your car and others on the road. A head stuck out of the window can easily lead to your pet falling out the window if not secured and you encounter bumpy terrain or some other jarring road obstruction. A spill can cause broken bones, internal injuries and worse if other cars can't brake in time to avoid hitting your pet. In saying that, it's ideal to have the window down slightly - that way fresh air can make its way through and circulate throughout the vehicle.
8. Check your NRMA Membership
If you're an NRMA Premium Care or Premium Plus Member, you automatically get Pet Plus coverage with your Membership, which can come in handy in the event you breakdown. Pet Plus includes transportation for your four-legged friend, access to vets and an individually numbered pet tag to help return your fur baby safely. If you’re an NRMA Classic Care Member, you can easily add on Pet Plus coverage for just $41.00 a year - simply call 13 11 22 today.