6 Tips for Flying With Your Pet
Flying with your pet should be a fun adventure, not a mess of stress. Maybe your feline is feeling adventurous or you're bringing Fido to your family reunion. Whatever the reason, traveling with your furry com-paw-dre can be a safe and fun journey for both of you, as long as you plan ahead. These six tips can help.
1. Review All the Travel Requirements
Things can get complicated when you're flying with Fluffy. Start your research well in advance of your trip, to ensure you have time to learn and understand all the travel requirements. Once you have a good grasp of the requirements and all your questions have been answered, then book your flight.
All 48 states in the continental U.S. allow most pets to travel. Still, you should confirm a state's rules before setting off, including vaccination requirements. One way to learn these details is through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
If you're leaving the country, rules are much stricter and can sometimes include a quarantine period for your pet. Some countries may not even allow animals to cross their borders, so check the rules before finalizing your plans.
On top of this, airlines have their own set of stringent requirements. These can include limitations on breed, age, carrier size, and weight. Some airlines only allow carry-on pets if their kennels fit under the seat while others only allow a few in-cabin pets per flight. Buy your ticket as early as possible to make sure your furry friend can travel with you. This also ensures you have plenty of time to find an extra comfy carrier that meets all the airline's rules.
2. Visit Your Veterinarian
Before you travel, visit your veterinarian to confirm your pet is healthy enough to fly. Request any health certificates or vaccination records that your airline may require. Take time to ask your veterinarian all your questions. Are you wondering when to feed your travel buddy? Or how to navigate the litter situation? Now's the time to ask. Your veterinarian can also tell you about stress-reducing options. You could also offer you pup a calming chew.
If your pet isn't already microchipped, it's a good idea to get that done during your vet visit. If Fluffy gets lost while in an unfamiliar place, shelters can scan the chip when he's found, and use your contact information to help you reunite. Register your microchip online before you leave.
3. Test Drive Your Travel Carrier Before You Leave
Airline compliant pet carriers must satisfy these requirements:
- It must have a waterproof bottom and adequate ventilation.
- It must fit under the seat in front of you.
- It must close securely; zippers are preferred to snaps.
- It must be the proper size for your pet; he must be able to stand up and turn around in the carrier.
The day you're traveling shouldn't be the first time your travel buddy rides in his carrier. Instead, give him lots of time to get familiar with it. Start by leaving the carrier out around the house so he can explore it. Put his favorite blanket inside, and coax him into the carrier with treats. If you plan to use potty pads, put them in the carrier now, so he can get used to how they feel.
Once he's less nervous around the carrier, go for test drives. End each journey with his favorite activity or treat to teach him that the carrier means you're about to have fun.
4. Pack the Essentials
Ahead of your flight, gather up all the documentation, items, and foods your buddy will need. These may include:
- Medical records such as a rabies vaccination or health certificate
- Your pet's microchip number and recent photos
- Comfort items like a blanket and a toy
- A collar, or harness and a leash for when your pet is out of the carrier. (You'll take him out of the carrier when you go through security.)
- Food and water bowls
- Your pet's regular food and any treats
- Gloves and paper towels in case of accidents
- A waste scooper and waste bags, a portable litter box, and anything else needed for potty breaks
- Any other documentation requested by your airline or travel destination
5. Create a Chill Vibe by Arriving Early
On the day of your flight, you both may be nervous: he, from all hustle and bustle around him, and you, from the added stress of traveling with your pet. Do what you can on the day of your flight to limit your stress — and your pet's. One of the best ways to calm your furry friend is by arriving early and taking things slow. The last thing you want is to be racing through the airport while clutching your pal's carrier.
Arrive at the airport at least an hour earlier than normal, so any unexpected complications don't stress you or your pet. This will give you extra time to take things slowly, check in early, and give your traveling buddy some extra attention. Give him a treat or a snack, and if possible, a potty break.
Before boarding, many airlines ask you to stop at the service counter to pay a carry-on fee. They may also ensure your crate meets the size requirements. To be extra cautious, consider calling the airline 24 to 48 hours before your flight. You can confirm your pet's accommodations and double-check what you need to do when you arrive.
6. Keep Calm
When you're on the plane, stay as calm as possible and speak to your pal in a soothing tone.
With the right attitude, your furry friend may see this as a fun, new adventure you're embarking on together.
When flying with your pet, these tips will help you have a happy and successful flying experience. Then, you can focus on having fun wherever you go!