The latest outbreak of Covid cases in Sydney has seen the immediate closure of state borders to NSW residents. With many of us therefore heading off on road trips within our own State, it’s worth considering the impact of taking your canine companion along with you.

 With the school holidays upon us, many pet owners may be planning to bring their furry friends along for a fun-packed holiday in the great outdoors. Even before COVID-19, at least 2.25 million dogs were taken on a holiday in Australia each year. Today, Australians are also travelling domestically more than ever before, while international borders remain closed.

Pet owners are warned to be vigilant against two diseases when travelling with pets. First, there has been a resurgence on Sydney’s North Shore and Northern Beaches of canine leptospirosis, with a confirmed case recently in Elanora and last year in Crows Nest. Leptospirosis is a bacterium which is transmitted through contact with stagnant water bodies and is often transmitted from the urine of rats in the inner city area.

And now there’s another disease new to Australia called canine ehrlichiosis pet owners should know about – especially when taking their dogs on holiday and bringing them home. Ehrlichiosis is caused by a bacteria (Ehrlichia canis) that can be transmitted by brown dog ticks. Brown dog ticks are present in parts of Qld, WA, NT, SA and NSW. Infected ticks pass the bacteria onto other dogs which can cause serious illness, even death.

If you’re travelling with your dog, take a few simple precautions to make sure you are not putting your dog, and others, at unnecessary risk.

1. Be travel safe: Take your dog to your local vet before embarking on your holiday. They can give you advice about parasites that might be present in the region you are traveling to, as well as tips for managing travel sickness.

2. Before going on holiday make sure your dog is protected against all five major parasites and especially against ticks which can spread canine ehrlichiosis, by using products that repel ticks before they bite. For leptospirosis protection a vaccination can be requested from your vet.

3. Check your dog regularly for ticks, even 2-3 times per day if you are in high-risk areas. Report any symptoms immediately to a local veterinarian. Ehrlichiosis is a nationally notifiable disease and any detected cases must be reported to authorities.. You or your vet can report the disease by calling the national Emergency Animal Disease Watch hotline on 1800 675 888.

4. Check State and Territory movement requirements for dogs. Further links can be found at: outbreak.gov.au/current-responses-to-outbreaks/.

5. Check ahead that your accommodation is ‘dog-friendly’: These days, more and more hotels, caravan parks and camping sites are dog-friendly, so plan ahead to make sure your pet is as welcome as you are and ask about whether ticks are prevalent in local areas.

Source for Ehrlichiosis information: Elanco Pet Health

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