Telling tails…


What is 1080?

1080 (pronounced ten-eighty) is a solution containing a synthetic toxic compound (sodium fluoroacetate) based on the same toxin found in more than 30 different native Australian plants. It is commonly used in prepared or fresh meat or grain-based baits. The toxin is highly biodegradable so is broken down by natural soil bacteria over time (1-2 weeks under average conditions, but faster in hot and humid weather).



Why is 1080 used?

In Australia, 1080 is targeted at rabbits, wild dogs, foxes, feral pigs and feral cats to manage their populations and protect native wildlife and livestock. It is used for baiting feral species in Australia because our native species are relatively resistant to it (as they have evolved with it present in native plants), meaning that ferals can be removed without poisoning our unique Australian wildlife.



Where is 1080 used?

Commonly in National Parks, near beaches, on private land or anywhere that pest animals are threatening native wildlife or livestock. As a pet owner, stay vigilant and look out for warning signage for recent baiting. That said, baits may be picked up and spread by birds so don’t rely on baits only being present in signed areas. The toxin is assumed to stay active for around 4 weeks after distribution.



How much 1080 does it take to poison a dog?

Dogs are particularly susceptible to 1080 poisoning and may be poisoned directly by eating baits or indirectly by scavenging on poisoned carcasses. Unfortunately, 1080 poisoning is commonly lethal due to the delayed yet severe effects, but is treatable in early or mild cases.

The LD50 of pure 1080 is 0.11 mg/kg for dogs, meaning that a dose of 0.11 mg/kg would be lethal for 50% of dogs. Baits are recommended to contain 6mg of 1080, which would be lethal to most dogs up to 60kg, but this can vary. On a practical basis, as different baits contain different concentrations of the toxin, it is safest to assume that any dose ingested could be lethal.

1080 must be digested in order to cause toxicity, meaning that most clinical signs occur 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion. But, this also means that the vomit of an affected animal can be immediately toxic, so ensuring that other pets don’t have access to an affected animal or their vomit is imperative.



What are the signs of 1080 poisoning in dogs?

Signs can appear 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion, with the timing and severity of signs depending on the dosage consumed. After the onset of clinical signs, they tend to progress quickly, making it very difficult to treat or save a dog that is already showing signs, even if a veterinary hospital is just around the corner.

Signs include:

  • disorientation or anxiety
  • frenzied behaviour such as running or howling
  • hypersensitivity to sound or light
  • failure to respond to owner
  • vomiting
  • urinating and defecating inappropriately
  • unconsciousness
  • sudden death



I think my dog just ate something, what should I do?

  1. Act immediately. Don’t wait for your dog to show symptoms, which could take 30 minutes to 12 hours to occur. Better outcomes occur from faster intervention and treatment.
  2. Induce vomiting immediately, but ONLY if your dog is fully conscious and not showing any clinical signs. There are risks associated with making your dog vomit.
  3. Call your closest vet or the Australian Animal Poisons Helpline on 1300 869 738. Treatment is possible in early or mild cases, so drive carefully but get to a veterinary hospital quickly. Provide the vet with the following information:
    1. What poison or bait they ate
    2. An estimate of how much bait was eaten
    3. The time that your dog likely ate the bait
    4. Your dog’s weight
    5. If your dog has any existing health conditions or is on any medications



How to make a dog vomit:

  • Always contact a veterinarian for advice first. Some situations and poisons can cause more problems if vomiting occurs.
  • DO NOT induce vomiting if your dog is already showing signs of toxicity.
  • Salt water is no longer recognised as a safe way to induce vomiting as it can cause salt toxicity.
  • The safest method is Hydrogen Peroxide 3% – this can be purchased at a supermarket or pharmacy. Ensure that it is not expired by pouring a little down the sink and watch for bubbling. If there is no bubbling then it is unlikely to work. Do not use hydrogen peroxide in cats.
  • Use a syringe to give 1ml of 3% hydrogen peroxide per 1kg of your dog’s weight into their mouth (example: a 5kg dog will get 5ml; a 10kg dog will get 10ml; a 20kg dog will get 20ml). Do not give more than 60ml per dog as this can cause other problems.
  • The peroxide may start foaming in their mouth and within 5 to 10 minutes your dog will likely start licking their lips, drooling and looking nauseous.
  • Most dogs will vomit within 15 minutes.
  • If no vomit occurs after 15 minutes, repeat the same dose.
  • Most dogs will vomit a few times then stop within 45 minutes. If vomiting continues, then seek veterinary assistance.
  • Make sure your dog and other pets cannot access or eat the vomit.
  • Wearing gloves, collect a sample of the vomit to take to a vet.
  • Call a veterinarian for advice as further assessment and treatment will likely be required.



Prevention is better than treatment:

  • Be vigilant. Be aware of areas where 1080 may be used. Local councils should have a record of any planned recent baiting, so call ahead before visiting a new location.
  • If you’re camping or walking in an unknown area, keep your dog on a short lead or in an enclosed area. Don’t allow them to roam freely without supervision. That includes to go to the toilet.
  • Teach your dog to wear a muzzle. A basket-style muzzle is best as it allows your dog to pant and drink whilst wearing it. Do not use restrictive muzzles that hold your dog’s mouth closed, they do not allow panting so your dog is at high risk of overheating (especially if exercising, in warm weather or if they are a brachycephalic (short-nosed) breed). Muzzles are useful for all dogs, but imperative if your dog likes to scavenge and eat random things.
  • Carry a pet first aid kit. Add a bottle of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide to your Pet First Aid Kit when travelling to use as a first aid measure if necessary.



Can cats be poisoned by 1080?

Cats are slightly less susceptible to 1080 poisoning (the LD50 for cats is about 0.28mg/kg) but feral cat baits are recommended to contain 2mg of 1080 per gram of bait as a lethal dose, so this is still only 1.2mg of 1080 (or 0.6g of bait) that would be lethal to the average 4kg cat.

The main symptoms of 1080 poisoning in cats are disorientation and lethargy, followed by death.

The positive is that cats are much less likely to scavenge like a dog, so less likely to eat something random like a bait. Cats are also less likely to be allowed to roam in a travel situation. That said, some cats will do both if given the chance, so it is worth keeping them contained or supervised on a lead at all times if you’re in a high risk location.

Do not use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in cats. Cats respond differently to medications and chemicals used to induce vomiting – hydrogen peroxide has a high potential for causing internal gut damage in cats. Unfortunately, there are no safe ways to induce vomiting in a cat at home.

If you suspect that your cat has eaten a bait or something that they shouldn’t, get them to your closest veterinary hospital as soon as possible for medical treatment.


* The above information is provided to inform and educate, it does not replace individual veterinary advice for your pet. Always seek veterinary advice before inducing vomiting as some toxic effects and health conditions can be made more severe by vomiting. Inducing vomiting in animals is associated with risks that should be assessed and managed by a veterinarian.


Whether you’ve just adopted a new puppy, have had a dog in the family for years, or love snuggles of the cat variety, you might have thought about investing in a pet first aid kit. You never know when it may come in handy, for those random accidents at home, playing at the dog park, or when camping or holidaying without a vet nearby. There may even be minor pet health situations which can be managed at home.


What should be included?

If you’re putting a pet first aid kit together, then the essentials include:

  • your pet’s vaccination records and a brief description of their health history
  • your pet’s usual medications
  • pet first aid guide or instructions
  • tick remover
  • thermometer
  • tweezers
  • scissors
  • gloves
  • electrolyte mix
  • antiseptic solution
  • saline
  • bandaging materials
  • gauze
  • syringes
  • ask your vet about antihistamines, pain relief or other items which might come in handy


Why should I buy a pet first aid kit?

If you have a furry family member, there are several reasons why you should consider buying a pet first aid kit:

  1. Emergency situations: Just like humans, dogs and cats can get into unexpected situations that may require immediate medical attention. Having a pet first aid kit on hand can help you provide prompt care to your furry best friend in case of an emergency.
  2. Quick response: In an emergency, time is critical. Having a pet first aid kit readily available can help you respond quickly and efficiently to your pet’s medical needs, potentially saving their life. Veterinary telehealth advice can be sought and you’ll have the equipment on hand to follow their instructions.
  3. Minor injuries: Dogs are prone to minor injuries such as cuts, scrapes, and bruises. Cats commonly get bitten or scratched in fights, resulting in nasty abscesses. Dogs and cats can easily suffer an upset tummy with a change in their food or water source. With a pet first aid kit, you can quickly attend to these mishaps and prevent them from becoming worse.
  4. Save money: A pet first aid kit can help you manage minor situations at home (or in the car or caravan), providing reassurance and appropriate treatment when a vet visit is not necessary.
  5. Travel: If you like to travel with your dog or cat, having a pet first aid kit can provide peace of mind knowing that you are prepared for any medical emergency that may arise whilst on the road and hours from the closest veterinary hospital. A lot of dogs will develop ear or skin infections when swimming a lot, out in the dusty outback or heading north into the humid tropics. Ticks are an issue in most states and territories. A small injury can be easily managed without the need to pack up camp and trying to find the closest vet.
  6. Expert guidance: A good pet first aid kit usually comes with instructions or a guide to help you know how to use each item in the kit properly, and that can be crucial, especially if you are not familiar with basic first aid procedures. How do you know if that bout of vomiting or diarrhoea is serious or not? There’s no point having a pet first aid kit if you don’t know how and when to use it!

In summary, a pet first aid kit is a valuable investment that can provide you with the tools and knowledge needed to respond effectively to medical emergencies that may arise with your furry friend whether at home or out and about.



Buy yours now!

Dr Tania has expertly collaborated with Navigator to develop a pet first aid kit, based on common problems that she has seen working with pets all around Australia.

Watch the video to learn more about our Pet First Aid Kit here: Watch now

Get your paws on one here: Vet in a Van x Navigator Pet First Aid Kit


We can all admit to giving in to those puppy dog eyes at some point and slipping some of our dinner to the furry family member under the table. Or maybe the dinner table scraps are destined for the dog bowl. Along with being aware that this may not be providing a balanced diet for your dog and contribute to them gaining a bit of extra weight, there are a few food items that shouldn’t be shared as they can be toxic or cause illness in dogs.

Whether you feed your dog a premade or homemade diet, always make sure that it is balanced for your dog’s nutritional requirements. Random scraps are not a balanced diet.


Here are our top seven human foods that can be dangerous for dogs:


Grapes, sultanas, raisins and currants

Whilst it is still unclear as to why these fruit snacks are toxic to dogs, we do know that they can be responsible for causing severe kidney damage if eaten. Some dogs seem more susceptible than others, so even one grape or sultana could have serious effects.

This also applies to any other foods containing them, like raisin toast, fruit cakes and hot cross buns.

Signs of kidney damage can take days or weeks to become obvious, and by then it may be too late and could progress to kidney failure. So, if your dog has eaten grapes, sultanas, raisins or currants, please seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.



Chocolate and caffeine

Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine and caffeine is also found in drinks like tea, coffee and cola. This also includes cocoa and cacao and foods that contain them, like chocolate cake. Dogs are quite sensitive to these substances, known as methylxanthines, as they cannot metabolise theobromine properly so even eating a small amount means that it builds up in their body and can lead to signs of toxicosis.

The darker the chocolate, the more methylxanthines it contains, whilst white chocolate contains a negligible amount so is not a concern.

Signs of chocolate or caffeine poisoning include:

  • Vomiting / diarrhoea
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Restlessness or hyperactivity
  • Rapid breathing / panting
  • Increased heart rate or arrhythmias
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures



Onion and garlic

Along with other related plants, like leeks and chives, onions and garlic contain compounds called disulfides and thiosulfates which are harmful whether raw, cooked or dried. Cats are most sensitive but dogs are also susceptible, especially if these foods are eaten in large amounts.

Immediate mild effects result in gut upset but the compounds affect the red blood cells and in severe cases can lead to a life-threatening haemolytic anaemia a few days later (effectively damaging the red blood cells so that they can’t function or carry oxygen).

Signs of onion or garlic toxicity include:

  • Vomiting / diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums and tongue
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate




All parts of the avocado plant contain persin, a fungicidal toxin, that is found in the leaves, bark, seeds, skin and fruit. The leaves contain the highest levels and unripe fruit contains a much higher concentration of persin than ripe fruit.

Although persin is toxic to most animals, particularly birds, serious avocado poisoning in dogs is rare, the most common issue that we see is the avocado seed causing a gut blockage if eaten.

Signs of avocado poisoning include:

  • Gut upset / vomiting / diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Mastitis in lactating animals (inflammation of the mammary glands if they are producing milk)
  • Heart muscle damage within 24 hours appearing as
    • Lethargy
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Cough
    • Tongue and gums turning blue
    • Death




This is an artificial sweetener commonly found in foods like chewing gum, sugar-free lollies, toothpaste, human medications and some foods. Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. Even small amounts cause a sudden insulin release into the bloodstream resulting in a massive drop of blood sugar levels within 10-60 minutes of ingestion.

Signs of xylitol poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of coordination
  • Seizures
  • Liver failure



Fatty foods

Think twice before handing your dog a sausage at your next barbeque. When we eat fat it stimulates the pancreas to release digestive enzymes, an entirely normal process, but in dogs a random fatty meal might cause an overstimulation of the pancreas leading to inflammation and a condition called pancreatitis. This can be incredibly painful and lead to dehydration, infection and ongoing issues.

Beef, lamb, fatty offcuts and barbequed meat are typical culprits, but pancreatitis can also be secondary to obesity, food poisoning, long-term steroid use or trauma. A dog who has had a previous case of pancreatitis may be more susceptible to it happening again.

Signs of pancreatitis include:

  • Vomiting / diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Reduced appetite
  • Reluctance to move
  • Collapse


Whilst we’re on the subject of barbeques… keep those corn cobs and kebab sticks away from your dog too. That includes keeping the scraps and rubbish bag out of reach! These items are renowned for being eaten by dogs and getting stuck in their gut, causing an emergency.


Cooked bones

The suitability of feeding raw bones to dogs needs to be assessed on an individual basis as it does carry some risk and different bones may be suited to different dogs, both due to their size and eating habits as well as the type of bone. Cooked bones should never be fed as they are more prone to shattering and splintering with the potential to get stuck in the mouth or throat, or cut or puncture the gut as they pass through.

Signs that feeding bones are causing problems may include:

  • Broken teeth
  • Vomiting / diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Blood in the poo
  • Abdominal pain


I think my dog has been poisoned, what should I do?

As with any potential toxin, the sooner that detoxification and treatment is started, the easier it is to treat and the better the outcome for your dog.

If you suspect or notice that your dog has eaten any of these foods or has been poisoned by something else, please call the FREE Australian Animal Poisons Helpline on 1300 869 738 (1300 TOX PET) or your veterinarian for advice as soon as possible.

It is also helpful to ensure you have a Pet First Aid kit on hand in-case of an emergency, check out the Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit.



Whether it’s chasing the sun for a Winter get away or warming up for Summer, the beach is a favourite holiday destination for many of us, including our pets. But, not every dog-friendly beach is without risk. There are a few things that you need to be aware of to help keep your dog safe amongst the fun of sun, sea and sand.

Here are our top six risks to be aware of when taking your dog to the beach:


1. Sun protection

Just like us, our pets can get sunburnt and develop various types of skin cancers. Fortunately, cats and dogs are covered in hair which offers some protection from the sun. So, that gives you the hint – the most likely spots that need some extra sun protection are areas where the haircoat is thin, the top of the nose, ears, tummy and inner thighs. Pets with white hair and pink skin in these areas are most at risk of getting sunburnt.

The best prevention is to use a pet-friendly sunscreen, just in case they decide to lick it, and try to discourage your dog or cat to lie in the sun in the middle of the day. A zinc-based barrier cream like Sudocrem is also a good option. Monitor these higher risk areas of their body for any new spots, lumps or scabs and have them checked by your vet as soon as possible if you do notice any changes.


2. Sea hares

Sea hares are a species of large sea slug that are usually a purplish brown colour and around 30-40cm long. They are found in intertidal rocky shores and seagrass areas in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. Under certain weather conditions, large numbers can be washed ashore onto beaches and this is when they pose a risk to dogs.

Sea hares are coated in thick slime and will squirt a purple dye if threatened. Both the slime and the purple dye contain toxins, thought to be accumulated in the sea hare from the algae that they eat. Unfortunately, this algal toxin is highly toxic to dogs so even a small lick of a sea hare can lead to signs of toxicity.

Signs include:

  • Leg weakness
  • Over-excitement
  • Tremors/seizures
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Quickly leading to death

If you see or suspect that your dog has licked or eaten a sea hare, act immediately, don’t wait for signs of intoxication:

  • Wipe the slime out of your dog’s mouth and off their tongue with a wet cloth
  • If your dog has already developed signs then use a dry cloth to wipe their mouth and tongue, don’t use water as they may choke
  • Get to the closest vet as quickly as it is safe to do so, calling them to let them know that you’re on your way
  • Sea hare intoxication is treatable if caught early


3. Blue-ringed octopus

It’s hard to believe that the colourful and tiny blue-ringed octopus is one of the most venomous marine animals in the world. Smaller than the palm of your hand, these critters hide out in tide pools, rock pools and coral reefs of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, meaning that they are found most of the way around the east, south and west coasts of Australia. They are quite shy so will only bite if provoked or handled, painlessly envenomating the victim with a tetrodotoxin, produced by bacteria within their salivary glands. Each blue-ringed octopus carries enough tetrodotoxin to kill 26 adult humans so keep a close watch on your dog if they like to play in rockpools.

Tetrodotoxin envenomation acts by causing muscle paralysis within minutes, so signs and death can occur very quickly whilst the victim is still conscious.

** Please be careful as tetrodotoxin is also a risk for humans **

Signs to watch for in dogs include:

  • Leg weakness or wobbly walking
  • Dilated pupils (the black part in the centre of the eye)
  • Floppiness or paralysis
  • Paralysis of the breathing muscles leading to death

If you suspect that your dog has been bitten by a blue-ringed octopus, don’t wait for signs:

  • Get to the closest vet as quickly as it is safe to do so, calling them to let them know that you’re on your way
  • Treatment is possible if breathing can be maintained. Artificial respiration (chest compressions in large dogs or mouth-to-nose resuscitation in small dogs) can be effective until you reach a vet
  • If paralysed, keep your dog’s head elevated above their body on a folded towel to reduce the risk of regurgitation


4. Pufferfish

Most people are familiar with the inflating family of pufferfish and toadfish. They are commonly discovered on beaches and jetties, washed up or left behind by fishermen.

These fish species have an internal gland which produces tetrodotoxin, the same toxin as the blue-ringed octopus as listed above. Some species also have external spikes which carry the toxin. No matter if the fish is alive or dead, they are highly toxic and can be deadly to dogs if eaten, chewed or licked.

Refer to the signs to watch for in the blue-ringed octopus section above. Clinical signs may occur quickly or slowly depending on whether the fish is swallowed whole or chewed.

As for a blue-ringed octopus bite, pufferfish toxicity is treatable if caught early and the dog’s breathing can be maintained


5. Jellyfish

Types of jellyfish vary with season and location, with some more venomous than others, although the most dangerous jellyfish tend to occur in warmer waters. Although dogs are at a lower risk for jellyfish stings than humans due to their fur coats, stings are still a possibility especially on thin-haired areas like their face and tummy.

Prevention is key, so keep an eye out for jellyfish warnings or signs. If jellyfish are present in the water or washed up on the beach, avoid swimming and keep your dog on a lead to reduce the risk of contact.

First aid for jellyfish stings in dogs:

  • Wash tentacles off with sea water, taking care not to be stung yourself
  • If hives (a bumpy skin rash) are present at the sting sites, an antihistamine can be given – please ask your veterinarian for the type and dose of antihistamine as some aren’t suitable
  • Pour warm-hot 41C water over the sting site for 20 minutes – this denatures the venom – this is not boiling water, you should be able to tolerate it on your skin, we don’t want to treat your dog for burns as well as the sting!
  • Monitor your dog closely. If they experience extreme pain, breathing problems or vomiting – get to a veterinary hospital as soon as is practical and safe to do so.


6. Sharks and crocodiles

These apex predators don’t take no for an answer and can both swim quite close to the shoreline, so stay alert for signs indicating that they may be present in your location. Crocodiles inhabit the warmer waters (ocean and inland) of northern Australia and tend to be more active in the warmer seasons but they are a risk at all times. Many species of shark are present in all Australian ocean habitats.

This is another risk where prevention is definitely the best option:

  • Don’t allow your dog to swim or sit by the water in high risk areas – dogs tend to splash and attract attention
  • Keep your dog secured, on a leash/rope or within a fenced area, if they are prone to wandering off or have poor recall



So, in general, be aware of the risks at the individual beach you’re heading to and only allow your dog to explore beaches off lead if they have good recall and you’re paying close attention to them. We don’t need to be worried about taking our dogs to the beach, just aware so we can all relax and have fun in the sun! Make sure you pack your Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit in your beach bag for extra peace of mind.


Some dogs happily jump into the car, sit quietly, are relaxed and enjoy the ride or snooze the kilometres away. Others aren’t so keen. So, whether you’re just needing to take a quick trip to the park or would like your dog to feel safe on a longer car journey, there are a few things to consider before heading off.

If you are planning a big driving trip or holiday then give yourself, and your dog, plenty of time to work on a solution prior to your planned departure date.

If you have a new puppy, be sure to include car travel as part of the many types of socialisation and situations that they regularly experience between 8 and 14 weeks of age. If your puppy seems travel sick, seek veterinary advice to support them and ensure that car rides remain as a positive experience. This will help them to enjoy car travel as they grow up.


How do I know if my dog doesn’t like car rides?

There are many varied signs that your dog may not be enjoying car journeys, which may include:

  • reluctance to jump into the car
  • yawning
  • lip licking
  • drooling
  • panting
  • vocalising (whimpering, barking or howling)
  • hyperactive or ‘crazy’ behaviour
  • hiding
  • trying to escape
  • inappropriately toileting
  • destructive behaviour (chewing, biting, digging)
  • vomiting or diarrhoea, during or after the car trip


Why doesn’t my dog like travelling in the car?

The two main reasons why dogs don’t like being in a car are true motion sickness and anxiety. Other reasons for reluctance to get into the car include painful conditions like arthritis meaning that your dog won’t want to jump up or climb as it hurts. Knowing how to approach the situation and treat your dog is dependent on knowing the underlying cause.


What can I do to help my dog?

If your dog is showing any of the above signs when you try to take them in the car, then a consultation with your veterinarian is the first step. Your vet can help to assess whether illness or pain may be contributing to the problem as well as differentiating between motion sickness and anxiety. They can then make suggestions for behavioural training and/or medication based on your individual dog.

Puppies commonly suffer from true motion sickness and tend to grow out of it. Although some adult dogs may feel nauseous and drool or vomit in the car too. Providing a firm booster seat for your dog to see out the front window, ginger (in the form of a gingernut cookie or Blackmores Travel Calm Ginger tablet) or anti-nausea medication from your veterinarian prior to travel can help in these cases.

A solution will only work if it’s targeting the underlying cause so there is no magic general answer for all dogs.


After ruling out pain and illness, here’s a training approach that you may wish to try:

  1. Start small. With the car turned off, get your dog to sit in the car and give a reward or treat for being calm, if they seem nervous then give a command first (like ‘shake paws’ or ‘lie down’) and reward immediately for following the instruction. Repeat: get them out of the car, hop back in, command and reward. Repeat 5 times and again every couple of days, increasing the time spent in the car each time. Continue to repeat until they are showing no signs or reluctance or nervousness. Do not reward nervous behaviour and never tell your dog off or punish them – if it’s not working then remove him/her from the situation as they may need extra help to combine with this strategy (see the next section below).
  2. If this first step is working and your dog can repeatedly get into the car and act calmly, progress to doing the same thing then start the car. If your dog is calm, reward. If your dog shows signs of nervousness, give a command and reward. If your dog is too nervous and not responding, stop the car and return to Step 1 for a bit longer.
  3. Progress to small car trips. Different dogs respond differently, you may need to start just rolling the car a few metres forwards before stopping, you might get to the end of the drive way, or drive to the end of your street. Continue to praise and reward calm behaviour, distract nervous behaviour with a command and reward, or stop and return to the previous step if your dog is not coping. Once your dog is comfortable with small car trips, drive to a fun spot like the dog park to reward them.
  4. Once your dog is more comfortable with progressively longer trips, you can reduce rewards to every second or third time and replace them with praise, pats or cuddles.
  5. Great work! Dog training can be intensive and hard work but it’s well worth it and you’ll be rewarded by many happy years spent with your adoring companion.


If your pet needs a bit of extra help then some natural anxiety support may be considered:

These support items should be used in conjunction with behavioural training, as outlined above. You can try one or combine a few, whatever works for your dog.

  • Bring their favourite toy, blanket or an old t-shirt that you have been wearing (so it smells like you)
    • Familiarity and a bit of distraction can help calm the nerves.
  • If your dog is crate trained, look at fitting their crate or a smaller travel crate into the car
    • Your dog already views their crate as their safe place so this may provide them with reassurance.
  •  ThunderShirt
    • A body wrap that provides gentle constant pressure and may stimulate calming hormones.
  • Bach Rescue Remedy for Pets
    • A homeopathic herbal remedy which promotes stress relief. This can be used on a random basis on days that it is needed or daily.
  • Adaptil collar or spray
    • A synthetic dog pheramone based on one that a mother dog releases for her puppies helping them to feel safe and secure. This can be used on a random basis on days that it is needed or daily.
  • Blackmores Paw Complete Calm
    • Contains nutritional supplements which may reduce stress and anxiety. A better result would be seen if used for a few days in a row or daily.
  • Zylkene capsules
    • A natural product derived from casein, a milk protein, which helps promote relaxation. This works best if given daily or a few days in a row. Dr Tania has personally seen good results with this product but it’s not effective in all dogs.


What if none of these things work?

Remember, some dogs will respond faster than others. If your dog is responding positively, albeit slowly or with hiccups, to natural products and training then continue. But, some dogs, usually those prone to anxiety or who have had a bad experience in the car, may need a little bit of extra help requiring prescription medication. Forcing your dog to do something that he/she is scared of or using punishment will only make the problem worse, so if they don’t seem to be improving then seek further veterinary advice.

Have a chat to your veterinarian or a specialist behavioural veterinarian about further training and/or medications which may be suitable for your individual dog. Some dogs may require further investigations, like a blood test or x-ray, to rule out medical issues or ensure that certain anti-anxiety medications are safe for them.

As with all behavioural issues, the sooner that help is started, the less of a ‘bad habit’ that the behaviour becomes and the easier it is to manage or overcome.

For extra peace of mind when out and about, make sure you have packed your Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit in the car.

*None of the mentioned products are recommended or sponsored by Dr Tania or Vet in a Van, they are only listed as possible options that may help with mild travel anxiety or motion sickness. Different products will suit different dogs. Please chat to your Veterinarian if you are unsure or before giving any medication (natural, herbal or pharmaceutical) to your dog as they may interact with medications that your dog is already on or affect underlying health conditions.


Whether you’re travelling, camping for the weekend or enjoying a staycation at home this Easter, please be aware of any pets that may be around so that they can stay safe and enjoy the holidays too.

Don’t share your Easter treats

Chocolate is particularly toxic for dogs, cats and birds, as is xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in some low sugar chocolates and lollies.
Easter egg hunts are fun for kids but, unfortunately, our doggy friends are pretty good at sniffing out the treats too. Make sure all of the chocolates and lollies are kept safely out of reach and none are left behind if you’re organising an egg hunt. Ensuring all wrappers are picked up not only helps the environment but will help prevent them getting eaten by pets and creating a blockage in their gut.
The signs of chocolate toxicity can include
  • increased heart rate
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • hyperactivity
  • seizures
  • potentially death.
Hot cross buns should not be shared with pets either due to the sultanas which may lead to kidney failure in some dogs.

Celebrate with flowers

The Easter Lily (Lilium longiflorum), otherwise known as the Christmas Lily, November Lily or November Lily, is commonly potted or in cut flower arrangements for the holidays. Unfortunately, it is one of the true lily species that are extremely toxic to cats. All parts of the lily plant (leaves, stem, flower and pollen) are toxic and can cause kidney failure in cats if eaten. This includes licking pollen off their fur if they brush past the flowers.
Signs of lily toxicity in cats can occur within hours and include:
  • drooling
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • possible death

Has my pet eaten a toxic amount of chocolate or Easter treats?

The toxic amount varies with the type of chocolate or treat, along with the underlying health and size of an individual animal.
If you suspect that your pet has eaten any Easter treats, don’t wait for symptoms, please contact a veterinarian immediately as the sooner that your pet is treated the better the outcome will be.
If you are heading off with your pet over the Easter break, make sure you have packed your Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit
Have a happy, safe and pet-friendly Easter!!


Travelling with our pets does require some extra preparation but there are a few things that you can do before your trip that will help you and your furry family members relax and enjoy your holiday.


Where are you heading on holiday?

Confirming that your pet will be welcome at your destination, whether it is a caravan park or a bush camp, and being aware of any pet-related requirements before arrival will ensure that your stay is as smooth and relaxing as possible.

Things to check with your accomodation provider include whether you’ll need to:

  • provide your pet’s vaccination record
  • keep your pet secure or on a leash at all times
  • confine your pet to pet-restricted areas


Destination can also be relevant to your pet’s health. You may be holidaying in an area with certain diseases or parasites that you don’t have at home and are not familiar with. A couple of examples are ticks and the new tick-borne disease Ehrlichiosis in northern Australia (see more info here) or Leptospirosis outbreaks during the wet season up north or over east after floods or mouse plagues (see more info here).


Visit your veterinarian

It’s always worth taking your pet for a check up and a chat with your veterinarian at least 2-6 weeks prior to any travel. This will allow your vet to give your pet a thorough health check and ensure your pet is up to date with vaccinations and worming treatment, along with discussing which parasite preventatives are best for your pet for the location you’re heading to.

The main reason why it’s best to do this at least 2 weeks before your planned departure is that if your pet is due for a vaccination booster then this will allow their immune system time to respond to the vaccine and be at peak strength whilst you’re away.

If your pet is well overdue for vaccinations then please see your vet at least 6 weeks before leaving as your pet may require 2 booster shots 4 weeks apart to ensure they are protected.

Your vet will also be able to check that your pet’s microchip is scannable and you can check online to ensure that their microchip registration contact details are still up to date, just in case they go walk about whilst you’re away.


My pet has a health condition, is it safe for him/her to travel?

Just because your pet is older or takes regular medications for an ongoing health condition, doesn’t mean they can’t come on holiday with you. Chat to your veterinarian about your pet’s individual situation and how it can be managed away from home.

If you’re planning a short trip and your pet is on any regular medications then ensuring you have enough to last until you get home will save the stress and worry of suddenly running out halfway through your holiday. Most veterinarians are comfortable to prescribe medication to last 3-6 months in a regular patient with a stable health condition.

If you’re planning a much longer trip, then estimate when you will be near a town with a veterinary clinic before any medications run out, rather than waiting for the bottle to be empty, so your pet doesn’t go without his or her medication. Planning ahead is extra important if your pet has unique medication that may not be regularly stocked and needs to be ordered specially for you. A veterinarian who has not seen your pet before will usually request that you book a consultation with them to examine your pet and discuss their needs prior to prescribing any medications, even if they have been on that medication for a long time and are stable. Although this is a common source of annoyance, the consultation and health check are not about charging you more money, it is one of our legal requirements as veterinarians prescribing medications that we need to have examined an animal directly before prescribing or dispensing medications for him/her, so please be understanding even though it may be inconvenient.

Thinking ahead also applies to stocking up on any prescription or special pet foods that you may not be able to easily buy on the road. A lot of the fresh or raw pet meals can be difficult to access in remote places and you may have limited fridge or freezer space so a gradual alteration of your pet’s usual diet may be needed before heading off.


What if my vet doesn’t know what is best for the area that I’m travelling to?

To be fair, veterinarians tend to be experts in the things they see all the time, so if a particular disease or parasite doesn’t occur in their immediate area then they may not know all the details about it or stock the best preventatives. Some vaccinations and medications are only stocked by veterinarians in the areas where they are applicable, the Leptospirosis vaccine is a good example as different strains are found in different areas. In these cases, calling a local vet in the area you plan to holiday in will allow you to factor in any extras that may be needed to help keep your pet safe. Dr Tania has experience working in many different parts of Australia so will be able to answer your questions or point you in the right direction – send her a message or email.


What about the weather?

If you’re heading to a destination that’s hotter than your usual climate, a visit to your local groomer for a holiday haircut before you leave will help your pet cope with the warmer temperatures. Heat stress can be a real problem for all species so you can find more information and tips on heat stress here.

If your pet needs to adjust to a colder destination then a dog bed so they can rest off the ground, extra blankets or bedding and a coat might keep your best friend more cosy.


What if something happens to my pet whilst I’m away?

There are a few ways that you can be prepared in case something happens to your pet whilst you’re away:

  • Carry a pet first aid kit and know how to use it, especially if you’re planning to be off grid – grab our essential Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit here.
  • Keep a copy of the phone number of your usual vet along with that of the local vet near your destination.
  • Subscribe to peace of mind. Telehealth consultations, over phone, video or text chat, allow a vet to help you quickly assess and offer advice for any concerns that you may have for your pet whilst away from home. Dr Tania provides single telehealth consultations for $35 and a subscription telehealth service, providing travelling pets to access to two telehealth consultations for just $50 every 6 months – sign up for peace of mind here. Examples of common problems we’re asked via telehealth include pain relief options, how to treat diarrhoea, if something their dog has eaten is toxic, whether an injury requires further treatment at a veterinary hospital or talking an owner through some life-saving first aid but Dr Tania is happy to answer questions about anything about your pet that you may be concerned about.


What should you pack for your pet?

A great place to start is looking at the items that they use every day, like:

  • Collar with a tag showing their name and your contact number
  • Lead or harness
  • Food and water bowls
  • Any medications
  • Your pet’s usual food (and a can-opener if needed)
  • Treats or training aids
  • Dog bed, crate or blanket
  • Toys
  • Poop bags
  • Grooming equipment (like brushes or shampoo)


Extra, travel-related items might include:

  • Vaccination record including dates of last worming and flea/tick treatment
  • Phone numbers for your vet and a vet near your destination
  • First aid kit
  • Car restraint (crate, dog seatbelt or harness)
  • Lead extension rope or portable fencing (to secure your pet by your caravan or campsite)
  • (if your destination has sharp prickles or rocks) then dog boots are very handy
  • A coat (if you’re headed somewhere cold)
  • An appropriate muzzle (if holidaying near areas with baits, like national parks, farms or stations)



Please share any questions or suggestions for pet travel ‘must haves’ with our community on Instagram or Facebook


Amongst the devastation caused by recent rain and flooding on the eastern coast of Australia, a naughty little bacteria called Leptospira has reared it’s head again and an increase in animal and human illness has resulted. If you’ve spent time in the tropics of the Northern Territory or Queensland then this is a bug that you’re probably already familiar with but it has also had a history of popping up in other parts of the country too.

What is leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can infect both humans and animals. It is caused by a bacteria (genus Leptospira) that thrives in moist and humid areas, and is spread through animal urine and animal tissue. Rats are the most common carrier but mice and some wildlife are also a risk.

Leptospirosis is a common problem in areas after flooding or heavy rainfall, which is why most cases in northern Australia occur during the wet season.

How is leptospirosis transmitted?

You or your pet can catch leptospirosis if you are bitten by a carrier or if you come into contact with water, mud or soil that has been contaminated with infected urine. For example, if a rat urinates into a body of water and your pet drinks that water, they are at risk of infection.

The bacteria can also enter the body through cuts in the skin or occasionally via the gums, mouth, nose and eyes. So a dog that swims in infected water or even just stands in infected mud is at risk.

Cats are more likely to become infected by eating infected rodents or their carcasses.

Sugarcane and banana plantations are recognised as a high risk areas due to their attraction of rodents. 

Traditionally, farms are a risk as cattle and pigs can transmit leptospirosis, but most commercial farms vaccinate their animals so it’s mainly backyard or lifestyle properties with a few animals that may not be vaccinated that pose a risk.

What are the symptoms of leptospirosis?

The incubation period, from infection to signs appearing, is approximately 7 days (although they can be seen between 1-14 days).

Leptospirosis mainly affects the liver and kidneys. Signs of leptospirosis in dogs and cats include being generally unwell, lethargic, have a mild fever, walking stiffly or reluctant to move, refusal to eat, vomiting or diarrhoea, increased thirst or urination and jaundice.

Owners are encouraged to be especially mindful of these symptoms if their dog has recently been in contact with a body of stagnant water, areas where wildlife inhabit, near a rodent infestation or if their cat likes to hunt rodents. Please seek immediate veterinary treatment for your pet if you notice any of the above signs and think your pet may be at risk.

How long does the Leptospira bacteria survive for?

Leptospirosis bacteria can survive in moist or humid areas for months. Reservoir hosts (such as rats) allow for the continued spread and contamination of the environment.

How do I prevent my pet from catching it?

Preventing pets from drinking or swimming in stagnant water and avoiding areas where rats, mice, wildlife or farm animals congregate is advisable. Owners are encouraged to get their pets vaccinated against leptospirosis at their local veterinary clinic if their pets are visiting or living in high risk areas.

There are different strains of leptospirosis bacteria which occur in certain areas and different vaccines for each strain. Local veterinarians will stock the vaccine relevant to their area. An initial 2 doses are given, 4 weeks apart, then 6 or 12 monthly boosters will vary with vaccine type and individual risk factors. Generally, one vaccine (Auslepto) covers the main Leptospira strain in the Northern Territory and Queensland, and another vaccine (Protech C2i) covers the main Leptospira strain in NSW and Victoria.

Cases have been previously reported in the Northern Territory, Queensland, Northern NSW, around Sydney and eastern Victoria.

Can leptospirosis be treated?

If caught early, yes, leptospirosis responds to antibiotic treatment and supportive care. But the disease may be severe with long term damage done to kidneys, liver and other organs so early treatment is most effective and intensive care may be necessary.

Am I at risk of catching leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a zoonosis, meaning that it is a disease that can be passed from animals to people. So, keeping your dog safe and healthy plays a part in keeping you and your human family members safe as well.

Symptoms in humans can include fever, severe headache, sore muscles, chills, vomiting and red eyes.

What should I do now?

For the majority of the population, leptospirosis is not something to be worried about, just be aware and proactive for prevention. If you are travelling or living in a high risk area with your dog then vaccination is advisable.

Chat to your veterinarian about whether vaccination is appropriate for your dog and situation.


For peace of mind, keep a Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit at home and in your car.


As our island state, Tasmania is free of many pests and diseases that can be found on mainland Australia which means that it has some of the world’s most stringent biosecurity regulations. The relevance, if you’re travelling to Tasmania with your dog, is there are a few requirements that you need to follow in order to help keep our beautiful southern-most state free of Brown Dog ticks, Ehrlichiosis and Hydatid tapeworm. Please note that tapeworms are not treated by Nexgard or Bravecto – a specific all-wormer or tapewormer product is required (see below).


The main points include:

  • Ensure your dog is healthy and do a tick check within 24 hours of travel to Tasmania
  • Treat your dog for Hydatid tapeworm within 14 days of travel to Tasmania using a worming medication containing praziquantel at a dose of 5mg/kg bodyweight (this includes products like Milbemax, Milpro, Drontal, Droncit and Popantel)
  • Provide evidence of the above worming treatment which can include keeping the medication packet and purchase receipt (I recommend taking a photo of yourself giving your dog the medication, as extra evidence)
  • Download, print and complete the declaration form:


For further information see:



Are you travelling with a pet that isn’t a dog?

As long as your pet is healthy, there are no entry requirements to mainland Tasmania for:

  • Cats
  • Guinea pigs
  • Rabbits
  • Rats and mice


If you travel with a pet native reptile or bird species, an import permit may be required or they may be prohibited from entry to Tasmania. Please check this list for requirements for your pet’s species:



Still not sure if you can take your pet to Tasmania or need more information?

For further information, see:

A summary of Tasmanian Animal Biosecurity requirements for all species can be found here:


For peace of mind when travelling with your pet, make sure you have packed your Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit


**The information provided here is only intended as a guide and correct at the time of publishing, no responsibility or liability is taken for incorrect or outdated information. Please always check requirements on the relevant government and biosecurity websites prior to travel with your pet.


Why do I need to perform a tick check on my pet?

Ticks carry infectious diseases and some, like the paralysis tick, can cause direct toxic harm to your pet so this is one topic where prevention is better than treatment. Unfortunately, no tick preventative medication is guaranteed, so if you’re living or travelling in a tick-prone area then you need to physically check your pet for ticks at least once a day and carefully remove any as soon as possible. The sooner that any attached tick is removed then the less effect it will have on your pet.


When it comes to a tick prevention program for your dog, it’s all about the three step approach:

  1. An oral or spot on tick preventative medication (like Nexgard or Bravecto)
  2. A tick repellent product (like the Seresto collar or Advantix spot on)
  3. A daily tick check (twice a day if you’re in a high risk area)


How to perform a tick check:

Ticks are easier to feel than see amongst your pet’s fur, so use your finger tips to feel everywhere along your dog’s skin from the tip of their nose to the tip of their tail. This is called the ‘Finger Walking’ technique. Be systematic and follow the same pattern each time so that you don’t miss any spots. It’ll be awkward at first, but you and your dog will get used to it with practice. You can add a few treats, toys or enrichment distractions (like peanut butter or kibble in a Kong ball) to make it easier for you and a more pleasant experience for your dog. You’re feeling for something that feels like a warty lump that is between 1 and 5mm in size, so they can be tricky to find amongst the fur. Even though ticks have favourite places that they like to hide in, they can be found on any part of your dog’s skin.


The step-by-step tick check:

Start at your dog’s nose, walking your finger tips all over their face. The places where ticks like to hide on the face are under lip folds, so feel in the folds and lift their lips up for a peek, then around and under their ear flaps and around the ear cartilage knobbly bits.

Next, feel under the chin, down the neck and run your fingers across the shoulders. Being sure to run your finger tips all around under their collar, if they are wearing one.

Feel up under their arm pits then down their front legs. The main hiding places for ticks here are between the toes and pads so creep your finger tips into all those little nooks.

Most dogs love a belly rub, so giving a lovely slow massage all over their tummy and back should be the easiest part, carefully checking any skin folds closely and up around their groin area.

The back legs have the same hiding places as the front legs, so feel all the way down the legs and be thorough in the gaps between those toes and pads.

Keep going, you’re nearly there! A lot of dogs are sensitive around their bottom and tail, so a few extra treats or distractions may be needed here. Even if your dog won’t allow you to feel around this area (I don’t want you to get bitten if your dog really doesn’t like it), ticks may be visible if you lift their tail, checking directly under the tail as well as around their bottom and any skin folds. Then walk your fingers all the way to the tip of their tail and you’re done.

Great work!


What do I do if I find a tick on my dog?

Do not squeeze the tick – if it is a paralysis tick then squeezing the body can force more toxin into your dog.

Ticks can bury their mouth parts quite deeply into the skin when they attach, so you need to be sure that you’ve removed the entire tick with it’s mouth parts. Using a tick removal device makes this easier, there are a few different products available so follow the instructions on the label. It is possible to use tweezers but be sure to grab the head, not the body, of the tick to gently twist it out.

If you’re not able or confident in removing the tick, call your local veterinarian for help.

If your pet becomes unwell after you’ve recently removed a tick from them, call your veterinarian immediately as both paralysis tick toxicosis and tick-borne diseases can be deadly. Early treatment leads to better outcomes.

Want to be prepared? The Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit makes removing ticks easy!


Protect your dog now:

Check out our other blog articles for more information about ticks or Ehrlichiosis then head to and enter the unique code VIAV100R at the top left of the screen for an exclusive discount on tick prevention and other pet supplies.


Would you like to be walked through this Tick Check with Dr Tania?

Grab your dog and click here if you’d like to watch a video version of Dr Tania performing this tick check on our YouTube channel.






*Information provided here is based on information available to us at the time of publishing and not intended as an individual veterinary recommendation for any product or action. You should consult your veterinarian for advice regarding your individual pet and read all product labels and instructions prior to the use of any product.

**By using our discount code, you save money and Vet in a Van receives a small margin on each sale which helps us to keep helping you and your pets.

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