Tips for Traveling with Pets
With trendsetter celebrities like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears bringing pint-sized pups everywhere they go, pet travel has become both popular and fairly common. While you don’t need a Louis Vuitton travel crate for your own little Tinkerbell, there are also few other things to note the next time you fly with your canine (or feline) friend. We've put together a guide on what you need to know if you're considering bringing your pet on-board your next flight.
Prepping Your Pet for Flying
Fit for Flying
When considering traveling with your pet, it's a good idea to first determine whether she is fit to fly. Some pet breeds with short muzzles (like pugs) typically face breathing issues if left in the cargo hold. If he is looking too weak, consider leaving him at your home.
Moreover, even airlines with pet-friendly policies do not permit pregnant pets and those with suckling offspring. Besides, a few cat breeds, short-snout dog breeds, and cross-bred animals are not allowed either. We recommend you to check with your airline about these cases in advance to avoid any last-minute surprises.
If your pet shows any signs of violence, illness, or physical distress, airlines do not permit you to board with him or her. Try to schedule an appointment with an experienced veterinarian about one week or so before your flight.
Before traveling, ensure you have all of the proper identification for your buddy. Buy an ID tag for your pet’s collar. You can get a temporary tag with the phone number and location of the hotel you plan to stay at to reduce confusion.
You can even consider microchipping your pet. It is a safe form of identification. It is mainly beneficial in case your pet escapes free from his/her collar. If your buddy is already microchipped, confirm that all the details are right and up-to-date.
Cargo Hold or Carry-On?
Deciding where your pet will spend the flight depends on a few factors, and the airline. Principally, where your pet will rest in the flight will depend on their size. Although rules differ from one airline to another, most airlines will accept small dogs, cats, and domestic birds as carry-on luggage.
As an item brought on-board, your pet will have to fit in an airline-approved travel crate. It must also fit under the passenger seat (generally about 10x15x20 inches and weighing less than 40 pounds). He’ll need to be at least eight weeks old, fully weaned, and calm, and will be required to remain in her own carry-on bag for the duration of the flight.
If the pet is larger, he will need to travel in the cargo hold with the luggage. Most airlines describe it as a shipping pet, but to passengers it's really treated as a checked bag. From the moment a pet is checked-in, all animals must be kept in an approved travel carrier. Be aware that an airline reserves the right to deny passage of your pet if it deems the weather will be too extreme in the cargo hold during the flight. Be sure to both contact the airline well before your flight, and get to the airport early on your day of departure.
Getting required vaccinations for your pet is another vital factor to consider when traveling via plane. There is a set of vaccines offered in a series when your pet is young. You need to update them every three years. Your veterinary doctor may advise you of additional vaccines depending on your location and other factors. We advise you to let your vet know about your travel plans as soon as possible so that he or she examines the health well.
The vet will also offer a ‘Health Certificate’, which is a document that is essential for international travel. You can show it at the checking time when entering a new state and/or country. In a few cases, you need a notary stamp on the certificate, and it must be vetted by a USDA-accredited veterinarian.
Documentation for Domestic & International Flights
Carrying an animal with you does not mean they can escape all the paperwork. Most airlines also require your pet’s current health certificates and special documentation such as an Official Health Certificate, Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, or proof of rabies vaccines. So make sure that all shots are up to date. If you plan on traveling with your little buddy on a regular basis within Europe, it’s worth getting an EU Pet Passport.
Cross-check that you have all the necessary paperwork for each destination. Also, collect knowledge about which countries allow pets and which don’t.
Airlines Pet Policies, Fees & Restrictions
Each airline has different policies for traveling with a pet. Some airlines even limit the number of pets flying per flight. For example - in-cabin, just two pets are allowed at a time. Moreover, airlines usually adhere to safety procedures and government regulations. These policies can change at any time with respect to your pet’s safety and well-being. And as rules, restrictions, and fees for bringing your pet on-board vary between airlines, and are subject to change, it is suggested that you contact your air carrier in advance to understand the particulars of flying with your pet.
That said, you’ll most likely be traveling domestically with your pet, as many countries have strict quarantine requirements for animals arriving internationally. In addition, not all airlines permit pets as cargo.
Be prepared to pay for your pooch. Airlines may charge $30 to $150 (each way) for letting your Fluffy/Fido sit under the seat. It’s always good to double-check the website of the airline so that you get the most up-to-date information before flying!
Also, note that some airlines will consider your pet a part of your carry-on allowance. In most cases, each traveler is allowed one carry-on bag and one personal item such as a purse or a briefcase).
Once you decide to bring your little buddy along, try to reserve his space as far in advance as possible. Most airlines allow only one kennel in first or business class and two kennels in the main cabin.
Pet Travel Comfort
Once you’ve determined that your pet meets all of your airline’s requirements, it's time to make sure he’s comfortable with his newfound jet-setter status.
How to Keep Things Calm
While traveling, you must ensure that your furry buddy behaves well and does not create a nuisance for your fellow passengers. To keep her calm and happy, consider the following things:
- Make sure his crate or her bag is large enough to lie down, turn around, and stand freely.
- Trim any long nails so that they don’t snag on the carrier.
- Bring their favorite chewies. But avoid feeding your pet the morning of your travel day to reduce the risk of nausea.
- If your little companion is a nervous flyer, you will need to get him used to his crate before your big trip.
- Be extra careful about using any sedative drugs like puppy Prozac. The ASPCA and numerous veterinarians recommend against sedatives use on pets. In fact, some airlines will not allow your pet to board if they know he has been sedated.
When your pet is traveling with you via air, it doesn't relieve you of the responsibilities as an owner. You must maintain extreme caution about his or her comfort and health throughout the journey. Pets are like your family.
But flying with your pet does not have to be tough. It just requires as much preparation as flying via air with children. Many domestic airlines go the extra mile to make the entire process quick and easy.
One more important thing to consider when traveling with your pet is the people around you. We’ve all experienced the close quarters of airline cabins.
We all know how uncomfortable it can be to have a seat next to the person who is talkative, practices poor hygiene, or wears too much perfume. Imagine your seatmate’s discomfort if he or she is allergic to pets. So below are the Petiquette you can take into account:
- Make sure your pet is free from offensive odors before traveling. Think twice about bringing him if he barks constantly.
- Keep her inside her crate at all times during the trip.
- Place a favorite blanket or toy in the crate to make him feel at home.
Arrangements Upon Arrival
Once you arrive at your destination, collect checked baggage, and your checked pet immediately, as you must pick them up within four hours. Else, they will be taken to a vet or boarding facility.
Also, ensure you have booked a pet-friendly hotel in advance of your arrival. Resorts with nearby parks or lawns are the best idea.
It's worth planning your itinerary in advance so that you and your pet don’t have to face any surprises and you arrive safe and sound.
A Word About Shipping
Larger animals can also be shipped in the cargo hold. But be very careful when deciding to have your pet travel anywhere other than the cabin of the plane. Shipping an animal can be dangerous and frightening for a pet.
Dogs too young or old are more prone to getting stressed. It may be due to air quality change, cabin pressure, temperature, and other environmental problems.
Animals exposed to extreme heat and cold while being shipped can cause illness or death. In fact, many airlines that don’t have a temperature-controlled cargo hold won’t allow the shipment of animals. If you must ship your pet, look for a pet-friendly airline, with specific guidelines for animal shipping.