It can be difficult to find a pet-sitter for vacations, and sometimes we really want to take our animal friends along for the fun. When this involves traveling by airplane, it can be stressful, but there are plenty of ways to prepare for what lies ahead to make the trip easier for everyone.
Below are 5 tips to help pets travel fully prepared and in comfort.
1. Be Informed—
Knowledge is power, but it also gives us peace. Calling the airlines to learn about their pet policies, rules and requirements will keep you ahead of the game and fully prepared, eliminating last-minute stressors and surprises.
There are many helpful websites with information on pet-friendly airlines and hotels, such as pettravelcenter.com, airlines.org, pettravel.com and bringfido.com to allow you to do research before you finalize your plans.
If you are a Triple A member, you can also search for pet-friendly facilities on the aaa.com website, or talk to an agent by phone for recommendations.
2. Be Prepared—
You got the information from the airline; now it’s time to make sure you finish your homework. Having everything ready to go that you need will allow you and your pet to have a smooth traveling experience.
Most airlines require a health certificate for your pet, generally within 10 days before departure, and be sure to keep this paperwork with you at all times. While you’re at the vet, make certain your pet is current on vaccinations, such as rabies, and get certification of this as well.
It’s important to be aware that certain flat-faced breeds of cats and dogs can’t physically tolerate the reduced oxygen levels of the cargo area, so get your veterinarian’s approval if your pet will not be allowed in the cabin.
3. Be Vigilant—
Your little pet pal is counting on you to take care of them, so try to choose the most stress-free path to your final destination possible.
This means flying during non-peak hours to make sure there will be adequate room for them, and if they will be traveling in cargo, be sure to fly during mild weather so they won’t have to suffer through excessively hot or cold temperatures.
Notify airline personnel that you are traveling with a pet, and if they only allow pets in cargo, ask to watch as your pet is loaded below. Many employees have pets of their own and will understandably accommodate your need for reassurance.
4. Be Thorough—
It’s really scary to think about losing a pet during travel like so much luggage, and although it’s rare, it can happen, so label everything and bring a picture of them with you.
If your pet isn’t already fitted with a subcutaneous microchip containing your information, consider having this process done during your pre-flight vet visit. Anytime your animals leave the home, there is a chance for them to get lost.
Your pet should also be wearing a collar with an ID tag that has your name and cell phone number on it for a quick reunion should the airline lose track of them. Tape all of your information – name, address, flight number, cell phone number, and final destination phone number – to the carrier.
5. Be a Good Pet Parent—
Arrive early at the airport so you can stay calm and have a casual security and pre-boarding airport experience. If you’re stressed out, your pet will sense it and become fearful or agitated. Arriving early will also give you time to get them some exercise before being confined – and make sure the carrier you choose is big enough for them to stand up and turn around.
If possible, try not to feed your pet beyond the USDA requirement of 4 hours before travel so they won’t make a mess. Small sips of water are okay, but don’t overdo it.
Be aware when planning travel that the Animal Welfare Act disallows pets under 8-weeks-old from flying. Also: Most veterinarians don’t recommend animal tranquilizers during flight unless your pet is extremely high-strung, as sedatives can cause breathing issues.
If you follow the tips above to thoroughly plan and prepare, you can take the hassle and anxiety out of traveling, for both yourself and your animal pal. Make sure to book pet-friendly accommodations for your final destination, and have a great vacation!