Tips for safe air travel with your pet
PetSmart Margaret Dinchak
If you're planning on traveling with your pet on a commercial airline, here are some tips to help prepare you and your pet for the trip and keep them safe during flight:
- Make sure that the airline allows pets to travel. New security measures have led some airlines to suspend pets on flights.
- Book early. Some airlines limit the number of pets flying in the cabin to three per flight. Reservations are made on a first come, first served basis.
- Select non-stop or direct flights whenever possible to avoid switching planes. Always travel on the same flight as your pet.
- Take temperature into consideration. In the summer, fly at night when the weather is cooler. In winter, fly during the day when it’s warmer. Many airlines have restrictions regarding certain short-nosed breeds such as Pugs, Boston Terriers, Shih Tzus, etc. Avoid air travel with these particular breeds if possible.
- Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian within 10 days of the scheduled flight. Most airlines require up-to-date medical certificates verifying that your pet is healthy and current on all necessary vaccinations. Veterinary health certificates are usually valid for 30 days. For extended trips, a new veterinary health certificate may be needed to return home.
- According to the ASPCA and many veterinarians as well as most airlines, pets should not be sedated for air travel. If you are concerned about your pet being over-anxious during travel, consult your veterinarian.
- Choose airline-approved pet carriers that are large enough for your pet to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably and provide ample ventilation. Line them with easy-to-clean materials like newspapers or paper towels. Mark the crate with “Live Animal -- This Side Up” labels and include your name, address, and telephone number in case she gets lost or misplaced in transit. You also should include the name, address and telephone number of your destination.
- Allow your pet to become accustomed to the pet carrier by placing her inside the carrier for short periods of time while still at home before going on the trip. Next, place your pet in the carrier and take her for a short car trip around the block a few times to see how she will react in the pet carrier while on the move. Short practice trips followed by reassurance time at home may help make the real trip easier on your pet.
- Attach your name, address and phone number on ID tags to your pet's collar. Also have your pet's info inside your carry-on luggage.
- Bring a current photo of your pet in case she accidentally gets lost in the airport or at the destination.
- Avoiding feeding your pet 12 hours prior to boarding or consult your vet if your pet has special dietary requirements. Be sure water is available, though, and bring along a small water container.
- Remove your pet's leash and keep it out of the carrier. Stash the leash in your purse or carry-on bag to reduce risk of your pet choking.
- Avoid letting your pet out its carrier while on the plane. Some passengers may be allergic to animal dandruff.
- Walk your dog just before going to the check-in gate and immediately after you land.