by Michelle Hogan, CMCA Communications and Marketing Team
Before hitting the open road we all go through the same dilemma of what to take and what to leave behind. The golf clubs? Your waist coat? That leaf blower or your sewing machine? The list can go on forever, but one item that should cause more serious deliberation is your pet. For pet owners, planning a trip well in advance will ensure a hassle-free holiday. Before departing with your furry, feathery or scaly friend, however, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of having your pets on the road with you.
Pets offer great companionship as you travel; they can be walking cohorts through the day and give warm cuddles at night. But, since most animals cannot express themselves as easily as a human can, a pre-travel visit to the vet might be necessary to ensure their health will withstand the added stress of travelling.
Regular visits to the vet will ensure your pet is always up to date with its vaccinations, as well as flea, tick and worming treatments (a necessity when travelling interstate). And, while a pre-travel visit to the vet can seem like an unnecessary cost, it may actually help you determine if your pet’s physical and emotional capability is suitable for travel. Animals can easily become stressed from travel due to the change in their environment and their routine. Ensuring your pet is healthy before heading out on the road will make life easier, for both of you.
If you have decided that your pet will be accompanying you on your next adventure, it is recommended that you check local Roads and Traffic Authority (or equivalent) road rules as the laws regarding transportation of animals in vehicles will vary between states and territories.
RSPCA NSW Chief Veterinarian, Dr Magdoline Awad, encourages drivers to ensure that animals are secured safely inside the vehicle when travelling, “A large number of animals die every year in car accidents because they were not properly restrained,” said Dr Awad.
There are several harnesses and carriers made specifically for pet-friendly travel that can help reduce the risk of injury. If possible, try to familiarise your pet with its carrier prior to travel as this will help reduce their stress during transport. Carriers should be large enough for animals to comfortably lie down and stand up while inside, and should be placed out of direct sunlight while travelling.
On long trips, make sure your pet has access to fresh air during the journey. “Have plenty of water on hand and be prepared to make regular stops, as some pets may get aggressive or sick if they are kept confined in the car too long,” said Dr Awad.
If necessary, pack pet food to ensure your animal’s diet and digestive patterns are not disrupted. It’s also a good idea to pack a pet-friendly first aid kit, as well as a towel in case your animals gets wet, needs a bath or is sick along the way.
Once you have arrived at your destination of choice, be sure to select a parking spot suitable for your pet. Dogs especially need room to run around and stretch their legs, so parking near a heavy traffic flow would not be ideal. If you chose to stay at an animal-friendly caravan park for the duration of your stay, there may be an animal lodging facility available onsite (which is ideal for those interested in visiting local attractions where animals may not be welcome).
However, if you would rather leave your pets in the RV while you are out it is important to make sure they are as comfortable as possible. Remember to pack familiar items for your animals, like beds, blankets, toys and treats. Your pet may be well-behaved while you are around, but stress, anxiety, separation disorder, etc. can cause animals to act out. If your pet does not feel comfortable in your absence its behaviour could change, causing unwanted attention and animosity from the neighbours.
A spokeswoman for the NSW RSPCA said, “In terms of leaving pets unattended in RVs, we would not recommend this. True, they have better ventilation than cars and utes, but it’s still risky to leave animals unsupervised in these types of vehicles.”
If your pet is kept inside an RV in the summer months it is important that they are left with plenty of water, the air-conditioner should be running, and if possible, park under shade. Although the RV does not heat up as quickly as a standard vehicle, it is still capable of reaching dangerously high temperatures. It only takes six minutes for an animal to die from heat stroke and in NSW, if a dog dies or even suffers as a result of being left in a vehicle, the penalty can reach $22,000 and carry a two-year prison sentence.
An alternative to leaving your pet locked-up is to find a nearby animal lodging facility; in the summer months especially this will offer you peace of mind knowing your animal is safe, and although it is an extra cost, it may save you heartache later.
But, if you don’t intend on taking your pets with you, it’s important to organise pet care while you’re away. Pets are typically more comfortable and less stressed if they remain in a familiar environment, especially if it is for a long period of time. So, you may choose to enlist the help of a responsible, reliable friend or family member to pet-sit or check in on your pets once or twice a day. Be sure to leave clear instructions on how long you’ll be away, any special diet or medical requirements and emergency contact numbers. It’s also good to let your neighbours know you’ve organised pet care so they do not worry about your animals being alone.
With more than 63,500 members, CMCA is the largest RV Club in Australia. As a member you will be eligible to receive the Wanderer’s Mate each year; a complete travel guide containing all the latest information needed to make any trip easier. If you are interested in travelling with your companion, the CMCA Friendly Caravan Park Listing includes a number of pet friendly locations in most areas of Australia. Visit www.cmca.net.au for more information.
For the full article download Issue 18 of iMotorhome eMagazine by clicking on the link below.