Traveling with a pet can be lots of fun. There’s certainly nothing better than exploring destinations – both old and new, with your best animal friend right by your side.
But pets can have special needs while up in the air, and there are a few considerations to keep in mind before you embark on your journey.
Here are some best practices for you to take to heart. These will help you make the most out of your trip and ensure that your pet has just as much fun on the plane as you do!
DOs of Pet Moving Services
1. Ensure That Identification Is Visible
If your pet is staying with you in the cabin of the plane (this is allowed depending on the airline and the size/type of pet you have), you probably won’t have a problem with it getting lost. Unless, of course, you fall asleep with it in your lap and it wanders off!
Whether they’re chilling with you in the cabin or roughing it out in a transportation crate in the cargo, it is important to tag your pets with proper identification cards. Their name and/or details should be attached to their collar.
Consider getting a microchip if they don’t have one yet. It’ll be useful for tracking your pet through a mobile device or laptop.
Not that the chances of them suddenly disappearing on the plane are very high, but having good identification, in general, on your pet while traveling is a thoughtful preparatory move.
2. Bring A Copy of Your Pet’s Medical Records
This is important in case your dog suddenly experiences a health episode/attack/issue while on the
plane. A doctor might need to see your pet’s medical records before they can administer some sort of medicine or treatment, especially if your pet has a history of health problems and complications.
Although the airline crew is typically trained to handle mid-air medical emergencies, their knowledge of animals is most likely limited. Having your pet’s medical records will help give any assisting personnel a clearer picture of what to do next.
On the other hand, making sure that your pet has a clean bill of health before any sort of travel is probably the best way to prevent any unforeseen emergencies. As the saying goes: a good offense is oftentimes the best defense. Consider investing in a good pet insurance plan as well.
Additionally, certain airlines need to see your pet’s latest health certificate to prove that it is up to speed on all vaccinations and shots. This is to ensure the safety of the cabin crew and other passengers.
3. Pack A First Aid Kit for Your Pet
Although there will probably be medical supplies on the plane in case of an emergency, it never hurts to bring your own. At the very least, it shows your dedication to the welfare of your pet.
Your first aid kit will be a handy companion all through your travels; not just on the plane.
MyPetNeedsThat claims that a good first aid kit should contain your veterinarian’s information (name, number, clinic address). Antibiotic ointment, styptic powder, saline eye solution, and artificial tear gel are useful in different situations.
Bring along some three percent (3%) hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting if your pet gets poisoned. But you should first consult your vet on how to properly do this. Absorbent gauze pads, adhesive tape, cotton balls or swabs, and some small towels will make patch-up work easier and cleaner.
You should also include disposable gloves along with scissors (blunt-ended) and a pair of tweezers. An oral syringe or turkey baster is good for administering liquid medicine.
4. Check the Airline Regulations Beforehand
The rules regarding pets traveling by air, as Purring Pal provides, will depend entirely on the airline that you’re taking during the trip. Do thorough research on your chosen airline’s policies to make sure that you know every pertinent detail.
Remember that you’re not traveling alone – but with a partner this time!
The size and type of pet that you are bringing along is very important. Some pets are allowed in the cabin (cats and most small dogs under 15 pounds), others are not allowed in the cargo hold (snub-nosed dog breeds, like pugs), and others aren’t allowed on planes at all (hawks, ferrets, hedgehogs).
Check the size requirements for your pet carrier. If you’re bringing the animal inside the cabin, the carrier should fit under the front seat. In some cases, you can also place it in the overhead bin.
Be very careful, though, when allowing your pet to stay in the cargo hold or the overhead bin. Airplanes can tend to become very cold or hot in these areas and pets can easily become dehydrated and may hyperventilate, especially if they have pre-existing medical conditions.
If you are flying with a large pet that must be kept in the cargo hold, make sure that its crate is spacious enough and has a sufficient supply of water and food.
Choose a kennel with an open-air design and check the airline’s policies on how it handles animals that are being placed into cargo.
DON’Ts of Pet Air Transport
1. Travel with Pets That Have A Bad Temperament
Some pets just aren’t cut out for flying (or travel) and do not enjoy doing so. These animals are happily content to stay at home in a nice, safe, and comfortable area.
You’ll know whether or not your pet is a happy traveler if you’ve ever taken it on a journey anywhere before. Remember that even though you might already know all the best ways to handle long flights, your pet certainly doesn’t.
If your animal sidekick isn’t too thrilled with the prospect of a long airline flight, consider an alternative.
High-stress and high-anxiety animals simply might not be the right choice of companion to bring along on a trip. The result will inevitably only be more stressful for you and your pet.
Not to mention, on some airlines, your pet will need to be well-trained and not too noisy when in the cabin. If your pet tends to vocalize a lot, you might want to think about leaving it behind or finding a different method of transportation.
2. Skimp on Travel Items or Forget Anything
Make sure that your pet has a perfectly-sized carrier. While the dimensions vary from airline to airline, most require the crate to be between 16 and 19 inches long or less, and somewhere around 10 inches tall.
If your pet perhaps outgrew the travel carrier that you currently own, don’t be a cheapskate. Buy a larger one so that it can have a comfortable flight.
Double-check your belongings before boarding to ensure that all the luxuries for you and your pet are present. Don’t forget that in most cases, the pet’s carrier becomes the carry-on baggage, so you’ll need to plan accordingly on what you’ll be bringing into the cabin.
If your pet is being loaded into the cargo bay, ascertain that the crate is clean and the litter box is prepared. This will become especially important during long flights.
Food, water, bowls, dispensers, and any medication should be on-hand.
Accidents can happen while your pet is cooped up in the cargo hold, so a good precautionary measure to take is to line the carrier with an absorbent product like DryFur which will take care of any spills.
3. Wait Until the Last Minute to Prepare
Some airlines will only allow a certain number of pets to fly in the cabin, so you need to make sure that you call ahead and book a slot to ensure a seat for your companion in a cool spot. Doing so late may end up with your pet being turned away at the airport.
Passengers with pets are usually given boarding priority and get the middle seat on the plane, where there’s more room.
Other minor annoyances may come in the form of unexpected costs. Pets have a fare, just like human passengers, and last-minute booking can be more expensive compared to advanced bookings.
Without sufficient preparation, staff may discover a problem with your pet’s carrier which violates the guidelines of the airlines. Consequences may range from additional fees to possible legal action.
4. And DO NOT Sedate Your Pet
Many pet owners wonder if it’s okay to sedate their pets to simply let them sleep throughout a long flight. The answer is: no.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), sedating pets during air travel increases the risk of heart and respiratory problems.
Not much is currently known about the effects of sedatives on animals that are traveling by air in a kennel 8,000 feet up in the air in a pressurized cargo hold.
Some pets react abnormally to sedatives. It creates a dangerous environment for the animal because the sedative alters its natural ability to balance and maintain equilibrium.
To be safe, stay away from sedatives and opt to help your pet get comfortable and familiarized with its travel crate. You can try leaving the carrier in the house during the weeks preceding your travel date.
Let your pet sleep inside and even have its meals there. It’ll make the transition to the airplane cargo hold much more seamless.