Traveling via airplane tends to be remarkably stressful, both for you and the four-legged members of your family. Nevertheless with careful homework, you can guarantee a safe and enjoyable expedition for everyone.
Animal welfare associations encourage pet owners to think carefully about flying their dogs and cats on commercial aircraft, specifically if they plan on checking them in as cargo. Unless your four-legged friend is small enough to fit under your seat and you can bring him or her in the cabin, the ASPCA recommends pet owners to not fly their animal. If pet owners have previously committed to transporting their animal companions on commercial flights, here are ten tips for safe air travel with your dog or cat:
Before You Fly
1. Have your pet checked by a veterinarian, and ensure that all vaccinations are current. Obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian dated within ten days of departure. Be aware, if you are traveling outside of the continental United States, even more preparation and health care requirements could be needed. For more information, contact the foreign office of the country to which you will be traveling.
Microchip and ID Tag
2. Make sure your dog or cat has a microchip for identification and is wearing an ID tag and a collar. Breakaway collars are best for cats. Also, the collar ought to contain destination details in the event your dog or cat escapes.
A Direct Flight
3. Reserve a direct flight if feasible. This will greatly reduce the odds that your dog or cat is left on the tarmac during intense weather conditions or mistreated by baggage personnel.
4. If your pet will be in the cabin with you, under your seat: Make sure to use a sturdy, escape-proof carrier. Felines, in particular, can effortlessly squeeze through small spaces. Appropriate carriers are required by most airlines and are obtainable through airlines or at pet-supply stores. Double-check the carrier's clasp and consider padlocking it. The carrier must have adequate ventilation, with at least a three-fourth-inch rim around the sides so the air holes won't be covered if the kennel is pushed against other boxes.
5. If your pet will be in the in the baggage hold: Purchase a USDA-approved shipping crate that is large enough for your pet to sit, stand and turn around in easily. Shipping crates can be bought from numerous pet supply shops and airlines.
Labels and Supplies
6. Write the words "Live Animal" in letters at least one inch high on top of and at least one side of the crate. Use arrows to prominently show the upright position of the crate. On the top of the crate, write the name, address and telephone number of your pet's destination spot, and whether you will be escorting him or if someone else is picking him up. Be certain that the door is firmly shut, but not locked, so that airline employees can reach your pet in case of an emergency. Line the crate bottom with some type of bedding--towels paper or shredded--to absorb accidents.
7. Affix a recent image of your pet to the top of the crate for identification purposes. If your pet breaks free from the carrier, this could save your pet's life. You should also carry a photograph of your pet.
8. The day before you depart, be sure to freeze a small dish or tray of water for your animal. This way, it can't spill during loading, and will thaw by the time he's thirsty. Tape a small bag, preferably cloth, of dry food outside the crate. Airline staff will be able to feed your animal in the event he gets hungry on long-distance flights or a layover.
Tranquilizing Your Pet
9. Sedating your cat or dog is largely not recommended, as it could impede his respiration. Ask your veterinarian first.
Communicate with Airline Personnel
10. Tell every airline staff you come upon, on the ground and in the air, that you are flying with an animal in the cargo hold. This way, they will be ready if some other considerations or attention is needed.
Bonus Tip: Worst Case Scenario If the airplane is late, or if you have any worries about the health of your pet, insist that airline staff examine the animal whenever feasible. In some situations, extracting the pet from the cargo hold and de-planing may be called for.
Conclusion If you must travel by plane, contemplate leaving your pet at home. If you have to fly with your pet, do your research, make preparations well ahead of time and be certain you know the airline's restrictions concerning and requirements for flying with pets.