Tips for road tripping with your pet

Road Trip

Follow this helpful advice to make your holiday a safe and enjoyable experience for you and your pet.

A small dog in a car packed for holidays.

With pets now an integral part of the family, Queenslanders are revolving their holidays around their pets and trends of selecting destinations based on pet-friendly accommodation are on the increase.

Animal Welfare League Queensland (AWLQ) said taking your pets on holidays was a great way to keep the family together and add to the experience.

While having your pet tag along on your holiday is an appealing thought, it results in additional considerations to keep in mind when planning your trip. 

Is your pet’s health up to a road trip?

Make sure that your pet is healthy enough to travel and that all of their vaccinations, worming and flea treatment are up to date before setting off.

If your pet takes any prescription medication, make sure that you have enough to see you through the holiday.

Even if your pet is healthy, it is a good idea to have the contact details of the local vet at your destination or vet clinics along the way (if it’s a long trip) at hand in case you need to make an appointment.

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How will you secure your pet during the road trip?

We all agree wearing a seatbelt is an important safety measure and while the road rules do not specifically require an animal to be restrained when travelling in a vehicle, it is important that our furry friends are restrained in a vehicle for their safety as much as ours.

Be mindful of the fact that in an accident airbags deploy with incredible force and can seriously injure or even kill a pet if it is struck by an exploding airbag.

Under Queensland legislation “drivers can be fined and issued demerit points if an animal is causing the driver to be not in full control of the vehicle, or if they are driving with a dog on their lap”.

AWLQ recommends animals travelling inside your vehicle are restrained for the safety and welfare of the animal and the occupants of the vehicle. 

Restraining your pet will provide a number of safety benefits to both your pet and the occupants.

For dogs we recommend a harness and not attachments that directly link to your dog’s collar, which secures your dog by connecting to the seat belt system.

Dogs travelling in a wagon-type vehicle should be behind a cargo barrier or in a travelling crate.

For smaller pets we recommend they are transported in a travel crate.

Make sure your pet has enough room to sit, stand, turn around easily and lie down in a comfortable position.

You should also make sure that there is enough ventilation and airflow.

A properly restrained pet cannot move around inside the vehicle and will reduce distraction to the driver.

 In a crash or under heavy braking a properly restrained pet is less likely to become airborne, decreasing the risk of serious injury to the pet, the driver and other passengers, or other vehicles.

AWLQ is opposed to the carrying of dogs in the back of an open vehicle unless protected in an enclosed cage securely attached to the vehicle.

The cage must not cramp the dog, should be well-covered for protection from the sun, wind and rain and be placed behind the cabin to minimise exposure to the elements.

Queensland legislation states “if an animal is carried in the tray of a ute or in a trailer it is classed as a load and must be safely restrained”. 

How can I keep my pet comfortable during the road trip?

It is a good idea to make sure that your pet is used to travelling by car before you set off.

Make a habit of stopping every couple of hours for a toilet break to avoid accidents in the car.

If you are travelling with your dog – this also provides an opportunity for some on-lead exercise, in a safe and secure area.

Never leave your pet unattended in a car – animals can die very quickly from heat stress.

Keeping these considerations in mind when planning a holiday with your pet will ensure a safe and enjoyable trip for all.

Have I packed everything my pet needs?

When you pack your bags, make sure you pack everything your pet will need too, including:

  • Your pet’s regular food and treats.
  • Bedding and/or a crate to sleep in.
  • Food and water bowls (pack some water for the road trip too).
  • Collar/harness and lead.
  • Suitable vehicle restraint.
  • Your pet’s favourite toys.
  • Towels in case your pet gets wet.
  • Bags to clean up after your pet.
  • Your pet's medication.

In addition, make sure your pet has an identification tag on it and their microchip details are up-to-date.

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Things to note

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.