If you’ve been thinking about taking a trip, you might also be thinking about what to do with your beloved pet. For some, the first option is to board the animal or hire a pet sitter, though in some cities, animal care can be expensive. Plus, it’s hard to leave our pets behind, even for a couple of days, so many people choose to bring them along on trips regardless of the method of transportation.
It’s important to be familiar with the risks and challenges associated with traveling with pets, especially if you own a particular breed, as flying can be harmful to dogs and cats with pushed-in faces. Read on to find out the best tips for traveling by plane with a pet.
Do your research
Before your trip, research which airlines allow pets to fly in the cabin rather than in cargo, what their breed restrictions are, and what their guidelines for carriers are. Flying in cargo can be dangerous for pets in the summer, when temperatures are high, and in fact, most airlines won’t allow pets to fly when temps reach a certain number.
As far as the carrier goes, it should be big enough for your pet to lie down, stand up, and turn around comfortably and should be inspected before the trip to make sure there are no sharp edges and that the latch and door are in proper working order.
Make a trip to the vet
A trip to your animal’s vet is necessary before you leave to make sure he is vaccinated for heartworm and is healthy enough to travel. It’s also a good place to get flea and tick medication as a precaution, especially if you’ll be traveling to the beach, a wooded area, or to a place where other animals will be roaming around.
It’s also important to ask your veterinarian about whether your animal should be given a tranquilizer. Very anxious animals may hurt themselves or cause a disruption on a flight, so it’s a valid method of keeping them calm, but you must follow dosage directions very carefully and make sure the animal is flying in the pressurized cabin rather than in cargo.
Just as you’ll pack for yourself, pack a separate bag for your pet. Include food, collapsible bowls, medications, a leash, toys, bedding, and any paperwork you might need for the flight. Be sure to put in favorite toys and blankets rather than buying new ones for the trip; having those comfort items could mean the difference between an anxious pet and one who feels secure.
Don’t forget about the destination
If you’ll be staying in a hotel, make sure the arrangements for your pet are made over the phone–where you can speak to someone who is knowledgeable about their rules for pets– and well in advance of the trip. Having those accommodations made ahead of time will help your peace of mind and ensure that there are no surprises at the last minute.