We’re lucky in Western Australia to have an abundance of open road to explore. 187,000 kilometres of road, to be exact. From beach getaways and rolling vineyards in the South West to the rugged and beautiful history of our state’s northern regions, there’s no shortage of road trip routes.

And the best part? The whole family can travel together, including pets! Taking your furry family members on road trips can be a lot of fun (for them and you), provided you prepare correctly and keep a close eye on them during the journey. Here are your veterinarian’s top tips for keeping your pets happy, healthy and safe on a road trip.

1. Visit your vet clinic before you go

Schedule a vet check-up a few weeks before your big adventure. The vet will:

  • Check your pet with a full health check from nose to tail
  • Confirm the appropriate parasite protection for the region your travelling to
  • Update vaccinations if necessary
  • Supply worming and flea treatment or medications if needed
  • Check their microchip
  • Offer tailored healthcare advice
  • Give them the all-clear!

2.Keep them comfortable, entertained and restrained

Get your pet accustomed to car travel before you head off. Work up from short trips to longer routes, watching for signs they are uncomfortable in the restraint, playing up in the back or are uneasy from the motion. Bringing familiar items like their blanket, ball, or favourite chew toy will also keep them calm on long drives.

Tip – Take your dog for a big walk or run at the park before you head off. This will allow them to go to the toilet and burn off excess energy so they are relaxed and sleepy for the car ride. 

Vehicle restraints

Pet vehicle restraints keep your pet safe and comfortable while the car is moving. Your veterinarian can offer advice on finding the right restraint for your pet.

3. Check and update microchip details

Microchips have been a legal requirement in Western Australia since 2013 – but did you know there are 6 microchip registries in Australia? Before you take your pet far from home, check your details are registered and up to date in at least one of the national databases (this isn’t always the case for your pet’s microchip):

Before a road trip is an excellent time to update your pet’s collar and tag, too. In case they wander off in an unfamiliar place, easily identifiable contact details will be essential in bringing them back.

4. Know where to find a vet clinic if you need one

Vetwest has 16 vet clinics around the Perth metro area, from Mindarie to Armadale, Rockingham and Mandurah. If your road trip takes you further from home, make sure to take note of vet clinics and emergency vet hospitals should you need one. This is especially important if you’re in an area with bad or no phone reception.

5. Check road laws for each state

Rules for transporting pets vary state-by-state. In WA we’re a little more relaxed, favouring common sense over strict laws. But if you go to Tasmania or NSW for example, you could face fines up to $500 for not restraining your pet.

Brush up on local laws before crossing state borders, both for pet safety and to avoid hefty penalties.

6. Are you visiting national parks? Because pets can’t

Most national parks don’t allow pets to enter. So make sure if you’re planning on visiting some of Western Australia’s many beautiful national parks that you can leave your pet safely at your accommodation or rethink where you’re going to spend your time.

7. Stop for regular breaks

Our final tip is good for pets and humans alike. Stop regularly to stretch your legs and let everyone use the bathroom. Keep pets on the lead in rest areas and around roads, because among the exciting smells and sights there are unfamiliar dangers for dogs and cats. Let them have a sniff and get them comfy again for the road ahead!

Personal road trip advice from your Vetwest healthcare team

The team at Vetwest love a family adventure as much as you. We want to make sure you have the best time on your road trip, without the stress of caring for an uncomfortable or unwell pet.

Book a pet health check before you go, so you can pack the car with confidence for your next road trip.

Pet Travel Checklist

Before you go

  • Check up at the vet
  • Enough food to last the trip and when you return
  • Parasite control up to date and appropriate for where you’re travelling to
  • Vaccinations up to date

On the day

  • Your pet’s bed
  • Food
  • Lead and collar
  • Crate or carrier (if needed)
  • Toys
  • Treats
  • Poo bags
  • Jackets or blankets
  • Parasite control (if due while away)
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Emergency vet contact numbers

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