Traveling with Your Pet

Contact the airline well in advance of your trip to determine whether the airline can accommodate your pet. Keep your pet’s health and safety in mind when traveling. Determine the requirements for traveling with your pet and prepare well in advance.

Many airlines will allow small pets in coach and first class. All pets must be in a standard cage or soft-sided carrier that will fit under the seat, and cannot be a disturbance to other travelers. Only small pets may be transported this way. Airlines have strict regulations regarding the size and type of carrier allowed for travel. Ensure your carrier states that it is airline-approved when you purchase it for travel, and that it has feeding and identification labels. Be sure that your pet is able to stand and turn around in its shipping crate, that ventilation is available from three sides, that water can be added, and that it has a secure door that can be fastened tightly. Plastic electrical straps make great locks that are secure but can removed quickly in case of an emergency if you are not immediately present.

Try to take non-stop or direct flights, avoiding connections and layovers. During extreme climate periods, make reservations accordingly. Airlines are governed by regulations that limit travel when temperatures exceed 85 degrees. Plan flights to arrive at connection points and destinations so that you are least likely to exceed limitations. For example, instead of an afternoon flight to Phoenix in July, you would better opt to wait until the next morning to travel due to the extreme heat.

Make arrangements well in advance. A health certificate for your pet available from your veterinarian will be required for all commercial airline flights. International flights usually require special handling and certificates. Check with the destination country’s consulate for the current requirements — it can take days or even weeks to accomplish meeting them. The United Kingdom and certain other countries have quarantine requirements that require extended boarding stays after arrival. We recommend consulting with others that have made similar trips to determine the quality of facilities where your pet will be staying.

We recommend withholding food for at least eight hours before travel. Fresh water should be available before and during travel as well as upon arrival. Tranquilizing your pet should be determined on an individual basis, and we strongly recommend discussing this with your veterinarian at the time the health certificate is completed. Do not tranquilize your pet without first consulting your veterinarian.

Airline travel may pose increased risks for pets with pre-existing medical conditions. Again, these situations should be discussed when obtaining the health certificate. Also, certain breeds of dogs travel poorly given certain conditions We will be happy to discuss these issues with you when examining your pet for the health certificate.

Try to avoid holiday travel with your pet, especially if the pet is traveling as cargo. There is always increased risk of lost baggage during peak travel periods. Try to travel a day or two earlier and stay a day later if traveling for the holidays with your pet.

Baggage liability limitations apply to your pet. Check with your carrier for liability limits If you are shipping a valuable pet, additional liability insurance may be a wise investment.

Cover the bottom of the cage with an absorptive pad blanket, or towels. Familiarize your pet with the cage before travel. Letting your pet play in the cage before traveling in it will help eliminate stress.