November 14, 2022
Gone are the days when you had to check your pet into a kennel or cattery every time you wanted to go away. Many places are now becoming much more pet-friendly, with owners welcoming furry and feathered members of the family with open arms.
But that doesn’t mean all you have to do is bundle your pet into the car or onto the plane and away you go. There are several safety considerations to keep in mind to ensure your pet (and the people around them) have an enjoyable journey.
An all-important part of traveling with your fur baby is finding pet-friendly accommodation in your chosen destination. At websites like Rentola, you can search for Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne rentals that accept pets and chat directly with hosts about the conditions of the stay.
Traveling by car
If you’re traveling to your holiday destination by car, the safest way to transport your dog is by having them secured in a crate that is anchored to the vehicle (either by a seat belt or other means). This is to prevent them from wandering around the car and being a distraction to the driver. Likewise, cats should be restrained in a carrier, particularly considering that most felines aren’t comfortable traveling at all.
If you prefer allowing your pet to roam free, it’s best that they stay in the back seat of the car, just in case an airbag is deployed. These safety devices are designed for humans and could cause injury to your pet. It’s also recommended that you don’t allow your dog to stick their head out the window as they could be injured by flying debris or passing vehicles.
Ideally, you want your pet to have a human buddy to keep them company during the trip, aside from whoever is behind the wheel. Make plenty of rest stops so that they can exercise, rehydrate and relieve themselves but always with a collar and leash attached. In no situation should your pet be left alone in the car, particularly on hot days when animals can suffer organ damage or even death as temperatures inside the car soar.
Traveling by air
Unlike some countries that allow pets to travel onboard aircraft with you, only service dogs are allowed to be in the cabin on Australian flights. All other pets need to be checked in as “excess baggage” and transported in a travel crate. It’s essential that you purchase an IATA-compliant crate that is large enough for your pet to stand up and lay down comfortably as they will be in the crate from the moment you drop them off until when you pick them up.
Before deciding whether your pet will fly with you, book a health check with your vet to ensure the animal is in good health for the journey. Not only will the vet check that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date but also that they aren’t suffering from any parasites. You should also spend some time getting your pet accustomed to being in the crate (perhaps during increasingly longer car journeys) so that they are calm and relaxed when your flight date rolls around.
Most airlines will only permit a limited number of animals on each plane, so be sure to book well in advance. It’s a good idea to check directly with the airline before you book your tickets to ensure there is still availability for your pet. Make sure you have any documentation required for your pet and that the crate is labeled with your contact details for easy identification.
On the day of the flight, make sure that your pet is hydrated and feed them only a light meal no later than six hours before the flight is scheduled to take off. Pets traveling on a full stomach may be more susceptible to motion sickness. It’s also a good idea to take your pet for a long walk before the flight, ensuring they have had enough exercise (and an opportunity to relieve themselves) before going into their crate.
Not all pets travel as well as others, which is why most Australian airlines don’t permit some dog breeds on their aircraft. They may also refuse an animal that displays aggressive or destructive behaviour that could be a risk to aircraft staff or other pets. Kittens and puppies younger than eight weeks of age are also not permitted to fly. If you have a snub-nosed breed of dog, such as a pug or bulldog, they may only be accepted on shorter flights and required to travel in larger craters for increased airflow.
Josh Rakower, via Unsplash.com
Traveling by long-distance train and bus
Unfortunately, pets are not permitted on long-distance trains in Australia, although small animals can travel on V/Line services in Victoria if they are in a suitable container. Approved assistance animals are the exception to this rule and can travel on long-distance trains and buses.
Karsten Winegeart, Unpslash.com
Traveling on public transport
When it comes to traveling with your pet on local public transport, the rules differ depending on which Australian state you are in. Victoria is the most pet friendly, with small dogs permitted on trains, trams and buses, provided they are in a container. Larger dogs are allowed on trains but only if they are wearing a muzzle and a leash.
In New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, most small dogs are allowed on buses, light rail services and ferries, although you need to get permission from the driver or crew first. They aren’t, however, allowed on trains or metro services.
Queensland allows both small and large dogs (with the above restrictions) to travel on Brisbane’s river ferries, except during peak hours (6:00 am to 8:30 am and 3:30 pm to 7:00 pm Monday to Friday).
In other Australian states, pets are not yet allowed on public transport, unless they are approved assistance animals. But this could change in the future as state governments follow the lead of Victoria.
An alternative way of getting around locally is by booking a pet-friendly ride with Uber, which is usually just a little more than a standard trip. Remember, Uber Pet services are always at the discretion of the driver and could incur a surcharge if there are any “accidents”.