6. Keep them calm on the road
Some dogs like nothing more than jumping in the car for a road trip, but others find car travel extremely stressful. If your pet hates the car, it’s advisable to talk to your vet before heading off on a long drive. Sedation may help some pets cope with the drive, but for others it can cause extra stress.
7. Help settle them in
On arrival at your holiday digs, spend some time with your pet introducing them to their new environment. Play with them and give them a pat or a cuddle to reassure them, and show them where the grass is for toileting and where their bed, and water and food bowls are. Check that all fences and gates are secure.
8. Keep tabs
Being in an unfamiliar environment may make your dog more inclined to try to escape. Make sure they’re supervised at all times and don’t leave them alone with unfamiliar people.
Make sure your dog has been microchipped and provide two contact numbers on a dogtag – the second being a close friend or relative who knows where you’re staying, in case you have no mobile coverage. Consider putting a GPS tracker on their collar. Check in advance where the local vets are for any medical emergency, and the local pound in case your pet gets lost.
9. Take them exploring
You won’t want to leave your dog behind when you head out to explore, so check whether dogs are allowed at the local attractions. Dogs on leads are welcome at most state forests and regional parks, but generally not in national parks, although there are some exceptions including parts of the Great Otway, Lake Eildon and Greater Bendigo national parks.
There are dozens of dog-friendly beaches throughout the state, along with wineries, cafes and beer gardens that welcome pooches on a lead. Gourmet Pawprints even runs winery tours for you and your pooch.
10. Avoid snakebites, ticks and heartworm
Snakebites are a common hazard in the Australian bush. If you suspect your dog has been bitten, take it to an emergency vet immediately because life-threatening symptoms can occur within minutes.
Ticks are rare in Melbourne, but quite common in rural areas or even urban areas with longer grass, and can be extremely dangerous to dogs, causing paralysis or even death. You can help prevent ticks by keeping your pet’s fur short, checking paws (especially between the toes) after walks, and regularly administering an anti-parasitic pill that prevents ticks. A thorough combing within four to six hours of returning from the bush may also stop ticks attaching themselves to your pet.
Due to their small size ticks can be difficult to detect. It’s a good idea to run your fingers through your dog’s fur after they’ve been in the bush to feel for any telltale lumps – especially forward of their front legs. Signs that your dog has a tick vary, but if they have a wobbly walk, a cough, or difficulty eating, breathing or standing, take them to the vet immediately. If you’ve removed the tick, place it in a container so the vet can identify it.
Another serious risk for dogs is heartworm, which is prevalent in New South Wales and Queensland. So make sure their heartworm prevention medication is up to date, particularly if you’re headed to those states.
11. Beware overheating
Another risk to dogs is overheating, so keep a close eye on them when the temperature reaches over 25 degrees, and never leave them unattended in a vehicle. If your dog is outdoors only, provide plenty of water and shade. Dark-coloured dogs and those with ‘squished’ faces, such as pugs or bulldogs, are particularly sensitive to heat. If you’re worried your animal has heatstroke, cool it down immediately with cold water or wet towels and take it to a vet.