If you have noticed more pets at the airport, you aren’t alone. Pet-friendly airline policies, hotels, and vacation destinations are becoming more significantly more common throughout the United States. The latest statistics suggest 35% of pet owners have traveled with their pet at least once over the past year. Considering the stress air travel can create on your furry friend, ideally, you leave them at home with someone you trust or at a reputable pet daycare. However, if this isn’t an option, follow our quick tips to ensure your pet stays safe and happy.
1. Pick the Right Place.
There are plenty of vacation options that pet owners should definitely take advantage of. Dog-friendly cities such as San Diego, California, Denver, Colorado, and Austin, Texas have dog-friendly parks, breweries, and plenty of pet-themed events. If you need to go somewhere that is not pet-friendly, consider leaving your dog with a business such as Doggie Day Trips in New York City. They will take your dog on hikes and send you updates with photos throughout the day while you enjoy your vacation.
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2. Plan Ahead.
The majority of airlines only allow a certain number of pets on each flight, so you need to purchase your pet’s ticket as early as you can. When purchasing the ticket, be sure to call the airline and confirm the availability and ensure you know the airline’s pet policy. You will prevent the potential consequences of extra fees or even the denial of your pet’s boarding because some airlines ban certain breeds, have vaccination requirements, or have carrier requirements.
When you schedule your flight, ensure you book your trip with a carrier that allows you to bring your companion on the flight. According to Kitten Lady on YouTube, some airlines only allow pets to fly in cargo. If you fly on these airlines, your companion may experience extra distress and your chances of losing them increases, so we highly advise you avoid this.
If you are concerned about how your pet will handle the TSA screening process, you can schedule a private screening. This is helpful if you are worried about your pet’s anxiety levels or creating extra hassles in the security line.
3. Keep it Simple.
If you can manage to book a nonstop flight (a flight from one airport to another without stopping), take it. If that is not an option, take a direct flight (the flight number doesn’t change, even as the aircraft may make one — or more — stops). Taking-off and landing is the most stressful part of the trip for your companion, so you want to have as few stops as possible.
4. Pack Right.
If you follow this packing list, your pet will thank you:
- Plenty of bottled water and water cups. Bottled water is particularly important if you are traveling abroad because some sensitive stomachs cannot handle water in certain locations. Encouraging more drinking is important because the more hydrated your companion is, the less likely they will become ill during the flight.
- Treats and a familiar toy or blankets to all sooth nerves, reward good behavior, and provide extra comfort.
- Paper towels, waste bags, and a stain remover… just in case
- Any necessary medications, health certificates, and medical records. Be sure to talk to your vet first.
5. Visit the Vet.
Most airlines require a health certificate (issued at least 10 days before departure)
and a few immunizations. Make an appointment with your furry friend’s veterinarian for a check-up and to ensure your furry friend is physically able to make the trip. If they are prescribed anything or have special care requirements, write the specifications on the pet’s carrier, just in case you and your pet get separated.
6. Consider Carriers.
Your pet’s carrier is a massive factor in their overall wellbeing during the flight. First, ensure the carrier is the correct size. Make sure your companion can stand up, turn around, and lie down. If the carrier is too small, they may experience anxiety. If it is too small and there is also reduced airflow on the plane, they may experience extreme distress. Second, remember to add several layers of newsprint under the bedding. It will make a good absorbent in the event of an accident. It also will help regulate the temperature since aircraft floors can be extremely cold once the plane is in the air.
Kitten Lady, a YouTube star dedicated to cats, suggests cat owners use the Sleepypod carrier because it is the perfect size for flights, is waterproof, is lightweight, and has a comfy bed.
7. Show ID.
To keep your companion safe, you need to ensure they are properly identified. Make sure you have an identification tag on them with your home address and phone number. Also, ensure your pet is microchipped or tattooed. Finally, carry a photograph of your pet with you. This all will make it much easier to find your pet in the event they get lost.
8. Avoid Tranquilizers.
Some tranquilizers or sedatives can cause respiratory or cardiovascular problems when your pet is exposed to high altitude pressures. They can also hurt some breeds’ ability to balance. This is problematic when the carrier is moved or if the plane experiences turbulence. If you are seriously concerned about your companion’s potential level of distress, consult your veterinarian. If they decide a tranquilizer is necessary, indicate the name of the drug taken and dosage on the carrier just in case you are separated in an emergency.
9. Move it.
If you are moving instead of just going on vacation, consider using a pet relocation service. These services specialize on transporting your furry friends across the country safely. This is particularly helpful for those moving overseas or for those who don’t know how to properly fly with their pet. Check out IPATA (International Pet and Animal Transportation Association) and few relocation options such as PetRelocation or Happy Tails Travel Inc.
10. Practice First.
If possible, expose your pet to as many travel experiences as possible before taking them on a flight. If they get used to their carrier, a bumpy car ride, strangers, loud noises, and new environments, they will be much more likely to stay relatively calm during a flight. One way to do this is simply to keep your carrier out in your home a few days before the trip. Putting a calming spray or their favorite blanket inside helps too. Encourage your little friend to use the carrier as a comfortable bed so they start to see it as a safe space. Once they see the carrier as safe, try taking them on car rides while in the carrier. They need to be able to handle a 15-minute drive if you expect them to handle a 6-hour flight.
Creating a “pawsitive” flight experience for your pet is critical because it will dictate how your pet handles future travel plans. When done right, traveling with your pet can make the trip more special and memorable. Properly follow the guidelines so you can keep your pet happy and your vacation stress-free.
Enjoy your va-cat-ion and fur-well!