Last updated on 6 May, 2023
Travelling pets, like all pets, need vet care for annual checks, vaccinations and other times for non-emergency or emergency treatment. But how do you find good vet care for your dog while travelling Australia?
Chika is our border collie. She has travelled with us for five years. Over those five years, she has been to several vets for her annual checkups, vaccinations and ongoing treatment of severe allergies, anxiety and reactivity to other dogs. The information and tips shared below are from our experience finding and getting competent vet care for Chika as we travelled, which may be of help and reassurance to you.
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- How to Get the Best Vet Care for Your Dog While Travelling
- Emergency Vet Care while Travelling
- Buying Prescription Medication for Pets while Travelling
- Pet Surgery and Recovery while Travelling
- Another Option – Use on Online Vets Australia
- Our Story of Good and Bad Vet Experiences While Travelling with our Dog Chika
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How to Get the Best Vet Care for Your Dog While Travelling
Finding and Selecting a Vet on the Road
The internet has made finding services such as veterinarians easy enough. The challenge as travellers with dogs in places we are unfamiliar with is confidentially finding a vet that will provide the care we need for our pet.
Our experience is finding and selecting vets that listen to you is most important while travelling. A vet that listens to you and respects that you know your dog best will provide better care for your dog. Further, a vet that does not listen leaves you feeling frustrated, upset and may be angry.
So there are steps we recommend, based on our experiences with various vets over the years, that will give you the best chance of finding and selecting a caring, competent vet:
- Plan ahead by using Google Maps (as it has more accurate search results based on location) to search for veterinarians in towns you are heading to in your travels.
- Read the reviews, specifically looking for any highlighting the vet’s willingness to listen
- Based on the reviews, select a vet and call them. The initial contact is likely to be with the receptionist or a vet nurse, but take note if you feel they are listening, empathetic and caring. In your conversation, inform them that you are from out of the area and the purpose of making an appointment. Gauge what response you get. If you feel you are not being listened to or dismissed, thank them for their time and ring another vet.
- Satisfied, book the appointment.
Unfortunately, these steps will guarantee the best care for your dog, but it is the best way to choose a vet in unfamiliar places.
Tips for Taking Your Dog to the Vet as a Traveller
Our tips are:
- Be clear about why you have your dog at the vet (write yourself notes if you are worried you will forget something),
- Have a thorough but as brief as possible verbal summary of your dog’s health history
- Provide a copy of your dog’s previous vaccination record,
- Do not be afraid to be assertive or ask all the questions you need to.
Top Tip: Keep Your Own Records of Vet Visits and Treatments
As travellers, your dog will (likely) see multiple vets if you travel for an extended time. A consequence is your dog’s health records are not in one place. Hence, we have found keeping a diary of Chika’s vet visits very helpful. We note using dot points:
- Vet name and practice
- The date of the visit
- Any health issues raised at the time and advice of the vet
- Anything else relevant
We also keep with the diary:
- Vaccination records
- Any medical records such as blood test results
Then at each subsequent vet appointment, it is possible to be reasonably clear about your dog’s health history.
Emergency Vet Care while Travelling
Even with the best care and due diligence in caring for our pets, emergencies can happen.
In an emergency for your pet, while travelling, the best course of action would be to use Google Maps to find the nearest open vet.
Buying Prescription Medication for Pets while Travelling
Pets are sometimes prescribed medication either for a short time or, like our Chika, ongoing. The question is how to fill prescriptions for your dog while travelling.
There is no one answer, but here are some tips and things to know:
- Vets cannot stock all prescription medication. Instead, it may need to be dispensed by a (human) chemist or an online supplier. The treating vet will explain or advise what to do.
- If you need a new prescription for ongoing medication for your dog (like we need for Chika), it is best to mention this when making an appointment and asking if they stock the meds.
- Buying directly from the vet is the most convenient but costs more than buying online. You also need to provide a delivery address.
- Only the vet that wrote the prescription can dispense the medication, which means another vet cannot sell drugs using a script written by another vet.
- Online suppliers of pet medications require the original prescription (not a copy) sent to them via the post before dispensing the medication. Expect the entire process to take two weeks or more.
- Pharmacies can administer medications for dogs using a vet written prescription. They often do not have pet medications in stock, so you will have to wait for them to receive the order on your behalf.
Pet Surgery and Recovery while Travelling
Not all surgery pets have is an emergency and can be planned, even when travelling. If your dog needs any non-emergency surgery, it can still happen with some research and planning.
A couple of years ago, Chika had surgery to remove a couple of teeth. The beauty of travelling meant we travelled to an excellent vet with very reasonable fees (less than half of the others we spoke to). As a non-emergency, we booked the surgery at a convenient time.
To allow Chika time to recover, we stayed for a few days post surgery within a short driving distance of the treating vet just in case of complications. Thankfully, there were none.
Another Option – Use on Online Vets Australia
Vet Online Services and apps offer access to qualified vets (many 24/7) to answer your specific questions about your pet’s health needs.
For travellers, speaking to an actual vet via the internet, an app or by phone may be reassuring and helpful. Some use a chat box, but the preferred option of many is a video call.
Generally, the vet will provide pet owners with information and give guidance on whether an actual visit to a vet is warranted.
Some Vet Apps and Online Vets in Australia to explore for yourself include:
Note there is likely to be a fee payable, so take the time to read the terms and conditions.
Our Story of Good and Bad Vet Experiences While Travelling with our Dog Chika
Chika has severe allergies. The road to getting her on the correct treatment was long and hard. It was made more difficult by her seeing multiple vets, her anxiety and her reactivity.
For those who do not know, when you have a dog with severe allergies with an unknown cause, there is a long period of elimination diets, trialling different treatments and various tests. There are also the complications of secondary health issues caused by the dog scratching excessively. Chika developed skin infections.
The worst time came when a vet refused to acknowledge any past tests and treatments and wanted to trial Chika on treatments we already knew did not work for her. The experience was extremely upsetting and frustrating. Of course, we never went back to that vet, but it left me feeling rattled and escalated my general anxiety disorder.
Gratefully, the very next vet was fantastic. She listened, reviewed everything that had been done and tried for Chika. Finally, Chika was prescribed medication for her allergies that other vets were avoiding because of the potential side effects. Honestly, after a year of her suffering, it was a relief to see her healthy and comfortable.