Updated December 20, 2020
Taking the dog on a driving holiday? Needing to travel interstate with a cat? Or maybe you’re moving to Adelaide with pets. Here’s how to make travelling with dogs & cats more fun.
Below you’ll find information on Driving With Dogs & Cats.
If flying is an option, visit our page on Plane Travel For Dogs or Cats.
The company & government information we’ve included are up to date at the time of publishing. We can’t guarantee they will stay accurate so please check the details yourself before departure.
Travelling With Dogs & Cats To Adelaide
Adelaide is a healthy environment for most pets. Adelaide is free of the paralysis tick but dogs and cats still need the standard vaccinations and worming. There are no restrictions on keeping traditional pets like dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets etc.
When coming to South Australia with a pet, remember to dispose of any fruits, vegetables, soil or plant material before you cross the border.
South Australia also has some of the strictest rules on keeping dogs and cats, including compulsory desexing. Read more here.
Moving House With Dogs or Cats In Adelaide
What To Do Once You Arrive
- Register with your chosen veterinary clinic
- Ask for your pet’s history to be requested from your previous vet(s)
- Research the locations of emergency vet clinics
- Update your pets’ microchip details (our nurses can help)
- Keep cats inside until they have accepted their new home (usually at least 2 weeks)
- Register with the Dog and Cat Management Board (compulsory in SA)
- Research the local area
Check your local council’s website for local off leash areas. You’ll find elsewhere on this site a guide to our 8 favourite longer dog walks. There is also a good SA guide to dogs in national parks and 12 dog-friendly walks near Adelaide.
Pets Travelling Interstate In Australia
Diseases present in other states include:
- Paralysis tick (Eastern Australia)
- Leptospirosis (Northern Australia and inner Sydney)
- plus local venomous snakes or spiders.
The best thing to do is ask the vet for advice in the area where you will be staying.
Certain states have special restrictions:
- Dog owners entering Tasmania must show proof that they have given a wormer containing praziquantel in the preceding 14 days.
- Rabbits and ferrets are not permitted as pets in Queensland.
- Ferrets may not be allowed to enter Tasmania.
- Most states have complex rules on native and feral species.
Driving With Dogs or Cats
Rest Stops For Dogs
Exercise, water and toilet stops are best offered every two hours, just like for drivers. If you plan ahead you can find pet-friendly places off the main road. Even better, many country SA towns provide fenced parks where your dog can safely exercise off-leash.
Pet Safety and Comfort When Travelling
Dogs have a habit of jumping out of cars unexpectedly especially in a new or exciting place. To prevent this, train dogs to ‘wait’ in the car until you give them the ‘OK’ to jump out. Putting on the leash before even opening the door is an even better idea.
If the weather is warm, be as careful as you would be at home about leaving pets in cars during stops.
If your drive time will be prolonged, please consider splitting the journey into two days. Searching “pet friendly accommodation” in a nice place on the way (we like Hay, Balranald, Narrandera, Halls Gap or Echuca) & there is a good guide to dogs in the Riverland. Watch out that ‘pet friendly’ means you can have them inside and not just in a yard.
Cats, rabbits or stressed dogs probably need shorter periods of travel (around 6 hours per day). You can’t rely on them eating, drinking or toileting properly until you stop.
Pet Friendly Caravan Parks & Motels
Not everywhere will accept pets, and when they do, there are usually strict rules. Many caravan parks will allow dogs on leash but it’s important to check ahead to be sure.
Most national parks and reserves do not allow pets. Therefore, if holidaying with a dog there will be times when you need to leave him or her in your room or caravan. This may be a problem in hot conditions.
Pet Driving Holiday Checklist
Here’s a simple checklist to help remember what pets need for travel:
- Identification: microchip AND a tag on the collar with your mobile number.
- Secure leash and harness suitable for exercise close to busy roads.
- Food and water bowls.
- Favourite bedding and toys for comfort.
- Medications (bring a medical history too if it helps an unfamiliar vet).
- Spare bedding & plastic bags in case soiled.
- Poo bags.
Dog Car Restraints
There’s nothing cuter than a dog with their head out the car window. There is a problem though…
- Dogs DO fall or jump out regularly. We see the consequences.
- An unrestrained dog in a car accident becomes a high speed projectile.
- Dogs moving about in cars are dangerous distractions.
A better alternative for big dogs can be to have a cargo barrier installed. If the space is large you may still need a harness.
Dogs on utes need to have a leash short enough that no part of their body can go over the edge.
There aren’t any cat car restraints we recommend. Instead, it’s better for your cat to be safely inside a strong cat carrier, which is then strapped down or placed securely in the car.
Car Sickness & Sedation
Read our advice for dog car sickness here. If it’s a problem, there’s an effective medication we can offer.
Sedation of dogs is best avoided except for fearful, anxious or overexcited travellers. In contrast, medication of cats is more often a good idea due to the severe distress that travel causes to most.
In both cases, it’s essential to give a trial dose in the days before departure. Psychoactive drugs can be unpredictable, so you need to check the effect of the drug before travelling. Some animals even get worse instead of better.
Drugs used solely to block anxiety in both dogs and cats should not cause them to be visibly sedated. Drugs used to reduce excitement or arousal should still allow a dog to walk around, eat and drink.
The best thing to do is talk to your vet before you depart about the best choices for your dog or cat.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These blogs are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story!
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