Tips for Traveling with a Pet
Pets are part of the family so it’s only natural that they be part of your family vacation planning too! Whether they are coming along with you or they are staying behind, preparation is key. Here you’ll find a few tips to make your life a little easier when it comes to flying with a pet.
If You’re Flying, Get your Flight as Early as Possible
The earlier you book, the more likely you are to be able to take your precious pet with you. Many airlines have a limited number of spaces for pets on each flight. When you find the flight you’d like to take, contact the airline by phone to double check availability for your pet and book your tickets with the agent at that time. This is a good time to ask the agent about any requirements specific to that airline. Our friends at BringFido have a full list of Airline Pet Policies here to help too. Providing food, carrier requirements and documentation are a few key things to ask about!
You may also consider a non-stop flight during hours where temperatures won’t be too extreme to reduce the amount of time your pet is traveling and increase comfort.
Organize Your Documentation
Both international and domestic travel will come with their share of documentation when you’re taking a pet with you. For example, all pets traveling across state borders in the USA are required to have a rabies immunization and health certificate. Veterinarians are able to provide these within 30 days of traveling. Exact documentation can vary from situation to situation so be sure to get in touch with your local veterinarian to double check the requirements specific to your pet. There are also bans on very young pets and certain breeds in various cities so make sure you do research on what is required by your destination before you depart.
Some pet owners like to make sure their pets are microchipped before the flight in the event they get lost and need to be identified. You can ask your Vet to do this for you before traveling. For more information on microchipping, have a look here.
Prep the Pet & Carrier
Pet carriers can be purchased in a range of sizes to suit all pets. They can be expensive for the larger ones so don’t forget to set aside some cash for this when budgeting for your vacation. Requirements vary depending on the size of your pet and whether you plan to take them into the cabin with you or if they’ll be traveling in cargo. You may bring smaller, soft carriers onto flights and stow them under the seat on most flights. Check with the airline for how large the space is and if your carrier will fit. If your pet is larger and is traveling in cargo, you should have a hard carrier (with holes, of course) which has enough room for your pet to stand, sit, lay and turn around. You may be refused transport if your carrier does not meet these requirements.
Your pet’s carrier needs to have identification attached to it like any other luggage would. Keep photos of your pet handy in the event airline staff need to assist in searching for your pet and carrier.
The Big Day
It is the day you’re leaving and everyone is excited! In the mad rush of packing up the car and leaving, it can be easy to forget to exercise your pet and let them go to the bathroom. For reasons we don’t need to mention, this is super important! You should also feed your pet a few hours before boarding, as it can be uncomfortable for them to travel on a full tummy. Let your pet drink water up until the time you check them in but be sure to dump out any excess water to avoid spillage. Go ahead and leave a small bowl plus any food recommended in the carrier so staff can give your pet food and water in the event of any delays. Include any specific feeding instructions that may apply to your pet.
Once you’ve ticked those boxes, you’ll want to arrive at the airport a couple hours early to ensure check-in goes smoothly and your pet gets onto the flight okay. Generally speaking, you won’t be able to check your pet in more than 4 hours ahead of time so don’t go too crazy on the early arrivals!
Nerves are natural for pets traveling but don’t provide your pet with any sedatives unless specifically recommended by your Vet. It can lead to a host of issues once the air pressure changes in flight. To help fight the nerves, you can get your pet used to the carrier in the weeks leading up to the flight
Getting Used to New Surroundings
Being in an unusual place can be unsettling for pets. You can take your pet for a long walk to get him or her used to the new destination. You can also take extra measures to ensure your pet’s safety like attaching a GPS tracker onto your pet in case they run away.
Have a great trip!