Travel Tip – Traveling With a Pet: What You Need to Know

Traveling With a PetEveryone deserves to hop on a plane and go exploring. But if you’re a pet owner who is itching to travel, it can be difficult—not to mention a big hassle—to secure space for your dog at a local kennel or enlist your neighbors to take care of your cat while you are away.

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That is why a lot of us just bring our pets on the plane.

While flying with your pet may sound difficult if you never tried it, packing up your pets and ensuring they arrive at your destination safely is actually a breeze—that is, if you prepare appropriately. Here are a few tips that will help you ready your pet for a comfortable journey by air.

Determine if it is safe for your pet to travel
First and foremost, you need to determine if your pet is fit to travel. First, consult your vet and inquire about your pet’s overall health. Ensure that your pet has all the proper vaccinations that are recommended for travel, including location-specific shots. Ask your vet to issue a health certificate, as many airport security personnel (especially for international flights) will ask for it to ensure your pet isn’t a risk to other animals.

Also, consider your pet’s breed and determine if there are any specific limitations. For example, it is not recommended to store pug-nosed dogs or cats such as Pekingese, Chow Chows, and Persians in cargo. Restrictive nasal passageways make a stroke possible at higher elevations. Some airlines will not accept these breeds, so make sure to carefully research the selected company’s pet policy.

Choose your flight carefully
The truth is that flying with pets can be expensive. Many airlines charge up to $100 to fly with pets, many are as high as $250. Different airlines charge different amounts for carrying pets, so research current rates before booking your flight. If possible, try to book a direct flight to your destination. Faster flight times will prevent long layovers from getting between your pet and a bathroom break.

Also consider the local climate. Many flights won’t accept pets as cargo when temperatures reach the 85-degree mark or sink below 20 degrees. That being said, some airlines may offer climate-controlled holding areas.

Some carriers allow fliers to bring pets as carry-on baggage. However, there are many weight and breed restrictions so be sure to research if your pet applies. Stowing your pet “above deck” is oftentimes cheaper (no “handling” fees). Also, consider traveling on nonpeak hours, which can mean less passengers and more space.

Use the right pet carrier
Make sure you are using an airline-approved pet carrier. Manufacturers will state whether their carriers meet the specifications of major airlines. The carrier should offer adequate space for your pet to stand up, lie down, and turn around. This goes for carry-on carriers as well as those classified as checked luggage.

To make sure your dog or cat is comfortable with a new carrier, let him or her try it out before the flight. A few trips around town in the carrier during the weeks leading up to a flight should do the trick.

Research pet insurance
The last thing you want to happen is for your pet to have an accident at the airport or during a flight. Many pet insurance plans cover things like foreign body ingestion, poisoning, and cuts or lacerations. While it is unlikely that any of these things will happen to your pet during travel, an insurance plan is just one more way you can protect your dog or cat from harm. Just as it is important to consider travel insurance for humans—especially for extended international trips—look into the options to protect your pets during travel and research local pet care options.

Attend to health and grooming
Thankfully, a few basic health precautions will lower the likelihood of needing to file a claim on a pet insurance policy. Clipping long nails or claws that could get caught during transport is a great way to prevent any serious cuts or lacerations.

Also be sure to give your pet a little exercise before the flight. When pets are tired, they are more likely to rest during transit. And you do not want to give your pet tranquilizers unless specifically prescribed by your vet for air travel. These can have adverse effects at high elevations.

Prepare for the worst case scenario
Make sure you outfit your pet with identification in the case that he or she goes missing. Attach a permanent ID with your name, home address, and phone number and a temporary travel ID with the address and phone number of where you and an emergency contact can be reached. There are also options for GPS chips, which are injected into your pet as a tracking mechanism. Also, bring along a current photo of pet dog so you can show strangers in case he or she becomes lost.

Once you arrive, thoroughly check your dog after getting off the plane. If you notice any injuries or atypical behavior, take your pet to a local vet immediately. Ask the doctor to write down the date and his findings so you have official documentation of diagnosis to present to your insurance company and/or customs officials upon departure.

Adria Saracino is a blogger, marketer, and freelancer. When she is not writing for companies you can find her writing about style at her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.

13 Comments

  1. cheap travel insurance
    January 26, 2012

    I do not usually bring my pets whenever I travel primarily because I will be looking after them and would only cause “spoil-my-vacation” for me. But I find the tips helpful for those people who like their pets to be part of their travel getaway.

    Reply
  2. Jerry
    November 26, 2012

    I probably wouldn’t bring my pets with me while traveling unless it was absolutely necessary. I did have to fly one of my cats while moving cross-country once, but it was extremely stressful and he cried a lot during the trip. Thankfully the people sitting around us were very understanding, although I’m sure slightly annoyed.

    One thing that did seem to help a lot was a product by Bach called Rescue Remedy. I put a few drops on a treat and offered it to my cat when he seemed particularly upset and it seemed to help put him at ease.

    Reply
    1. Andi
      November 29, 2012

      @Jerry, I would not do it unless I had too, my cat hates traveling. I have used Rescue Remedy to take my cat to the vet, she hates the car, and it works great!

      Reply
  3. Vera
    November 27, 2012

    I had no idea you could get pet insurance, this post is very helpful, had no idea some airlines charge up to $250 bucks!! Thanks for sharing your tips!!

    Reply
    1. Andi
      November 29, 2012

      @Vera, glad you found them helpful!

      Reply
  4. Cassie
    November 28, 2012

    Wish it wasn’t so expensive to fly with my cats, I’ve always thought it would be kind of fun to bring one of them along when I stay at my parents’ for a week.

    Reply
    1. Andi
      November 29, 2012

      @Cassie, I’d love to take mine too, but she gets motion sickness and hates every part of travel!

      Reply
  5. sandyandcosmo
    November 28, 2012

    I’m just glad I finally found a wonderful kennel where I can leave my two dogs and know they are being treated like family. We used to travel with our dogs but it’s so much easier without them. That being said, I still miss them!

    Reply
    1. Andi
      November 29, 2012

      @Sandy, it is so hard to find good spots for our pets, I am glad you lucked out!

      Reply
  6. Deborah Hogue
    November 29, 2012

    Great Ideas on travelling with pets!! These will come in handy because I can’t imagine going anywhere without my little yorkie child. Thanks for all the great tips!!

    Reply
    1. Andi
      November 30, 2012

      @Deborah, you’re welcome, I am glad you found them useful!

      Reply
  7. amie
    February 2, 2013

    Great advice. Thank you.

    Reply
  8. carla bonesteel
    July 18, 2013

    We don’t go away for very long, because we love our cat so much….I know, I know…sounds crazy. But she is our baby, and we have no kids, and I can’t imagine leaving her. I would love to be able to take her with us, but I really don’t know how she would react to being away from home either….Thanks for the tips!

    Reply

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