There is a lot more to travelling with pets than just putting them in the back of a vehicle and heading off. Change in itself is a challenge for a travelling pet.
GoSeeAustralia's Pam and Alan found constant travel and the lack of familiar places the cause of some stress to their Maltese Shitsu Chloe.
"Yes, she could go and visit new places, have new walks but being on a lead all the time was very restrictive", Alan says.
"She was 13 years old. We could see she wasn't really coping with living and travelling Australia in our caravan", he said.
"With rising temperatures, anything over 25 degrees was hot for her. She didn't have an air-conditioned house, carpet on the floor, or a couch to lie on", Alan said.
Animals establish habits and behaviour patterns. For example, dogs get up in the morning, sniff their way around the back yard, check that everything is OK, bark at the dog next door, do their business, have breakfast, go for a walk and check all the neighbours are OK.
Then it's down to business – rest, play, work, eat, explore and the day goes on. But when a pet is part of a show on the road and sets off to Go Make Some Memories the secure familiarity of their permanent home environment ends.
There is no dog next door, no secure fenced back yard, there are different noises, smells and surrounds. At best this is unsettling. At worst it can be life threatening. This is particularly relevant to older animals. Respected vets say most cats are terrified of travelling in a vehicle.
Just like humans, pets need their favourite bed, blanket, toys, food and treats.
Changes need to be made to keep them and other occupants in the vehicle they travel in safe.
An unrestrained animal is a lethal flying object if there is an accident. So that means pet car seat belt restraints. Then the ‘must have' list extends to leads, pick up bags, shampoo, and brushes.
Add registration, micro-chipping, annual vaccination, regular worming and flea prevention treatment and any other medications which may be required. On top of this, factor in regular veterinary check-ups.
Longer-term travellers should take a copy of the pet's vaccination certificate or have an electronic copy available in computer files in Dropbox or something similar. All vets, kennels and pet day care centres ask for this information.
Unbelievably every year children and dogs die in hot cars. Cars heat up quickly even in what seems to be cool weather.
So pets should be placed in a facility if a visit to a National Park or an attraction or event where pets are not permitted is planned.
In the last four months on the road, GoSee's Maltese Shiatsu Chloe spent two nights in a kennel, one day she was looked after by a veterinary clinic; Chloe spent another day in a Doggy Day Care Centre and three days in private care while GSA's Alan and Pam attended various work functions, Industry Conferences and Caravan & Camping Shows.
Expect to pay between $A15 to $A25 per day for these services for a small dog. Small white fluffy dogs like Chloe, need grooming regularly. She attended the salon about every 6 – 8 weeks for a full cut and nail clipping. Cost around $A60 per visit.
My favourite beach.
When dogs stay in a Pet-Friendly Park, they have to be on a lead 24 hours a day. That is different for them too.
Finding a pet-friendly caravan park is not hard but keep in mind most parks do not allow pets during peak periods. This particularly applies at Christmas and Easter and school holidays.
"There are hazards small dogs face every day like an attack from an unrestrained larger dog", Alan said.
"This happened to Chloe some years back while walking with us, she was brutally attacked by an unrestrained Samoyed. She spent several days in hospital followed by regular trips to the vet for treatment for the next month. Luckily, the dog's bite did not puncture her lung and she recovered physically, but the attack marked her mentally and she was always wary of Samoyed's", he said.
"There are the additional hazard of baits in country regions, ticks and snakes, but a pet can be safe from these and controlled with proper supervision. It is our duty as a pet owner to ensure our faithful companions live an active, healthy and comfortable life", Alan said.
"Early this week our Chloe suffered a seizure then heart attack only 50 meters into her morning walk. We were able to revive her but her breathing was restricted. She could barely walk. We had to consider her quality of life.
"Did she still enjoy her favourite activity, sleep comfortably without being anxious?
"Did she have good hygiene? Was she free of pain and aches?
"We travelled to the local veterinary clinic. They immediately took us in to examine Chloe.
"We discussed our options and appreciated their professionalism and caring attitude. We had to decide what was best for her. She was peacefully put to sleep in our arms without any further suffering.
"The vet has arranged for her cremation and her ashes will be returned to us in a couple of weeks. We will scatter them in one of her favourite places. She was a devoted companion and friend, always guarding the car and caravan and looking after her mum and dad.
"Her memories will always be with us", Alan said.
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