Tips for Traveling with Pets
21 August, 2011

A friend of mine wanted to know if I had any recommendations or advice for her when she had to take her cat and dog on a plane with her across the country.   I did some research and spoke to other pet owners to see if they had any recommendations.

1.  Skip the sedative and/or tranquilizer. Unfortunately, medicating your pet is no longer an option. Giving tranquilizers to your pet when traveling by air can increase the risk of heart or respiratory problems. Tranquilizers also dull a pet’s ability to brace themselves during bumpy flights, and they can get injured.

2. Check your pet’s safety.
Pet owners who are riding along in the cabin can monitor their pet throughout the journey. Before boarding, owners can and should confirm that their pets are on board and reconfirm at boarding with the captain, either directly or via a note to the flight attendant. If the plane taxis or sits on the runway for an extended period of time, owners can ask the captain to check the temperature in the cargo hold.   If the flight suffers from long layovers or extreme temperatures, pet owners can insist that they get their pets at baggage claim.

3.  Research airport dog parks.
If connecting between flights, owners with dogs should walk them before the plane takes off again as many airports now have dog parks just outside their terminals. The website will give pet owners the directions to those parks.

4.  Plan ahead if you decide to have your pet fly alone.
When a pet has to fly without its owner in the plane, it must travel as cargo. For these flights, planning ahead is vital. Because reservations don’t exist for cargo travel, pets may have a long wait for an available flight. That’s when pets are vulnerable to illness, injury or loss.   You should also book a direct flight which would make it easier on everyone involved.

5.  Consider a pet travel service.
If you can’t go with your pet, look into hiring a pet travel service to coordinate all aspects of pickup, shipment and delivery.

6.  Make sure to prepare your pet’s crate.
Owners should provide a crate big enough for the pet to turn around, but not so big that the pet can be bruised during a bumpy flight. A plastic bag containing dry food and feeding instructions on top of the crate is handy in case of delays. A small bowl of frozen water inside the crate insures a supply of fresh water and prevents spills. Be careful to avoid ice cubes, which pose a choking hazard, as do toys and muzzles.

7.  Pet insurance may be an option. When traveling, you might consider purchasing pet insurance.  The amount is pretty minimal and it will mean that greater attention will be given to your pet.

Traveling with a pet is never easy, but hopefully these tips will help.

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