These days, more and more people are travelling by air with their pets. If you are considering this there are a few things you should know.
First of all, not all airlines allow pets, so before booking your flight make sure that the airline is indeed pet friendly and that they know your pet is flying with you. There are often additional charges for your pet and there are only a small number of pets allowed on each flight. You may not be able to wait for that last minute seat sale—- you might get a spot, but your pet may not!
If your pet is small enough it may be able to travel in the cabin with you. In this case your dog or cat must fit into a carrier that is able to fit under the seat in front of you. Check with your airline to find out the dimensions of the carriers they allow and be willing to put up with a bit less foot room.
If your dog is larger and must travel in the cargo area then ensure that you have an approved transport crate and that your pet is accustomed to travelling in it. Crates must be large enough to allow your dog to stand, sit, turn around and lie down in a natural position. It must be solid sided, have adequate ventilation and it must have a leak-proof bottom. Label the crate with your name, address, and contact phone number. Having your flight number and destination on the label is also a good idea.
Don’t forget to have a leash handy at the airport since you often have to remove your dog from the crate so that the crate can be put through the x-ray scanner. But before even entering the terminal, don’t forget the last minute potty break for Buster. There are no lavatories in cargo!
Always try to book non stop flights and consider the time of year that you are travelling. Fly in early morning or late evening in the summer months and try to travel mid day in the winter.
Many airlines require that your pet be examined by your Veterinarian within 10 days of flying and that they have issued a health certificate. If you are travelling internationally make sure that you have the correct paperwork to allow your pet entry into the country. Many countries have strict guidelines that may require special testing, vaccinations or paperwork to be filed out—so look into this far in advance. If not there may not be enough time to get results, special import certificates, etc, prior to your travel date.
Dr. Janis M. Fisher, DVM, CVA, CCRT