Tips for travelling with your dog

By: Claire Smith

Having your best pal on the road with you makes the travelling experience so much more colorful, so MCD has prepared some tips for bringing your furry friends

Most dog owners would agree that their four-legged friends are as much a part of the family as anyone else, which means that heading away on holiday just isn’t same if they’re not tagging along.

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Fortunately, if you own a motorhome or caravan, you can often include your pooch in your travel plans as long as you’re prepared. We’ve put together a few tips to help make your family holiday fun for you and your dog.

Put your pooch’s comfort and wellbeing first

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If you plan on including your dog in your travels, you’ve probably already thought about destinations that will be as fun for him as they are for you.

But if you find that most of the time you have to leave your dog alone or he seems distressed by the travel, then it may be wise to consider leaving him with a trusted friend or family member rather than take him with you.

Keep their health in check

Ensure your dog’s vaccinations, worming, and flea treatments are all up to date before travelling. If your dog has any health conditions, it’s a good idea to carry a record of any treatment or medications.

This way, if you need to see a vet after-hours or your regular vet isn’t available by phone, you’ll have any important information ready at hand.

And, of course, if you’re concerned about how your pet’s health may be compromised by travelling, check in with your vet beforehand.

Keep your dog secure when travelling

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Just as we wouldn’t travel without being secured in a seatbelt, neither should your dog. A well-fitted harness and seatbelt adaptor is ideal and means that should you be involved in an accident, your dog is safe and secured. For smaller pooches, a secure carrier is a good option.

Watch the heat

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With summer approaching, it’s a timely reminder to ensure your dog is always kept cool. If it’s going to be a hot day (as most summer days are), don’t leave your dog alone in the RV. It’s a better idea to reschedule your plans or perhaps seek out the service of a trusted doggy daycare.

And if you’re out and about with your dog, please beware of hot footpaths and sand (if it’s too hot for the back of your hand, it’s too hot for dog paws).

Always carry water for your dog and seek out cool shade during the heat of the day. And if your dog has pink patches on his ears or nose, apply a dog-friendly sunscreen (available from your vet or pet store).

Research dog-friendly campsites and regions

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Many travellers are caught out when they arrive at a campsite, only to be told their pooch isn’t welcome. If you’re staying at a campsite, it pays to assume dogs won’t be welcome, unless you’ve rung ahead and sought permission.

If you’re freedom camping or staying at a DOC site, be sure to check DOC’s website or the local council of the region you’re staying in. Some areas are closed to dogs to protect wildlife or due to poison traps.

Click here to check out MCD's dog friendly campsites and holiday parks. 

Make sure your dog has ID


Although you may plan to keep eyes on your best friend 24/7, it’s wise to make sure you can be contacted immediately if they do go missing.

Microchipping your dog (and ensuring his correct details are logged on the database) and having an ID tag on his collar is essential.

Start out small

If your dog is very young or hasn’t travelled before, it’s a good idea to plan a short trip, close to home, to start with. This will give you a better idea of how they’ll cope and what extra preparation you may need for those longer trips away.

Pack a doggy suitcase

Aside from the usual pet paraphernalia you’ll need, such as bowls and biscuits, you may also want to pack extra towels, medications, old sheets or blankets to cover furniture, long tethering leads or a playpen in case you need to secure your dog outside, a dustbuster (especially handy if your dog is moulting), pooper scoopers and bags, and spare bottles of drinking water.

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