As pet owners, we want to take our four-legged family members with us wherever we can. When Tim and I travel, we look for pet-friendly cities and places to stay so that we can bring the mutts along with us. We’ve taken them on road trips across the country, on camping adventures, and so many day trips that at this point Rocky and Kona might be as well-traveled as we are! And when it comes to traveling or flying with a pet there are a few things you want to keep in mind.
Tips for flying with a pet
No matter where you are heading there are a few things you want to keep in mind when traveling with your pet. If your pet is small enough to go in the cabin with you, you have less to worry about. But if your pet is too big for the cabin and you have to bring them on your flight, here are a few things to keep in mind so that your pet stays safe while flying.
Book a direct flight whenever possible.
Booking a direct flight decreases the time your pet is on the tarmac and moved around by baggage personnel. Direct flights also mean fewer chances of missing a flight and getting stuck on a longer-than-anticipated layover which could be stressful for your dog. If a direct flight isn’t an option consider taking your trip over the course of a few days. While this might not apply to shorter trips we definitely recommend it for trips that might take more than 6 hours.
Make an appointment with the veterinarian for a checkup.
You’ll need to make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date before you travel. And depending on your destination, there might be some forms, paperwork, or certificate that your vet might need to sign off on. Contact the foreign office of the country you will be traveling to for any additional requirements for your pet’s travel.
Aside from the clerical aspect of your vet visit, you’ll also want to make sure your little guy is happy and healthy for travel. Remember, the health of your pet is of the utmost importance to you and your pet’s vet! Talk with them about your concerns and about ways to relax your pet if they don’t travel well.
While at the vet you can also ask for a copy of your pet’s medical records to have just in case you need them while traveling. Chances are you won’t but it is better to be prepared just in case.
Get a USDA-approved shipping crate.
Making sure your pet has the right crate to travel in is very important! The crate should be large enough for your pet to comfortably stand, sit, and turn around. Lining it with some type of bedding is also recommended in case of accidents. We recommend shredded paper since it is the safest option for your pet.
Depending on the length of your trip you may also want to tape a small baggie of food to the outside of your pet’s crate. This way, airplane personnel will be able to feed your pet during a layover. You can also freeze a small dish or tray of water for your pet to have in their crate in case they get thirsty. By freezing the water ahead of time your pet will have access to water as it melts and spilling will be minimal. You can also consider a drip-style water bottle.
Make sure that the crate is securely closed but don’t lock it! Airline personnel will need to be able to open it in case of an emergency.
Properly mark your pet’s crate.
There are a few important things you will want to have marked on your pet’s crate. You’ll want to make sure that the crate notes that it contains a live animal. You can find a sticker to place on the crate that is clear and visible. You’ll also want to make sure that your name, cellphone number, and destination phone number are on the crate with a picture of your pet. You’ll also want to make sure you carry a photo of your pet while you travel.
Tell every airline employee you are traveling with a pet in cargo.
It may seem a little crazy pet parent but letting them know you are traveling with a cargo pet means they will be aware of any extra considerations that might need to be made for you and your pet. If your plane is delayed or if you have concerns about the welfare of your pet insist that someone from the airline check on the animal. Don’t be scared to advocate for your pet and keep in mind that in certain situations – like long delays- removing your pet from the cargo hold and deplaning might be the best option.
Something else to keep in mind while you travel is what to do if your pet gets lost. We obviously hope it never happens but knowing how and where to register a lost pet is important, especially when you are in a city you don’t know or have contacts in.
We wish you and your pet a great trip, no matter where the destination is. And we know how stressful flying with a pet can be so we hope these reminders and tips will help your trip go smoothly!