Your pet is a family member, so of course you want to bring him along when you go on a trip. Traveling with small pets is easier than traveling with larger pets but, in either case, you will have to decide what is best for both you and your pet. Here are a few quick tips for keeping your pet happy in his travels.
1. Book early
When planning your trip, it is important to book early because most airlines only allow one or two pets on each flight. Make sure to book a direct flight to keep your travel time as short as possible.
2. Make sure your pet is healthy enough to travel
Schedule an appointment with your pet veterinarian before your flight. Some airlines will require you to have a health certificate dated within 10 days of departure. Even if your airline does not require it, you will want to make sure your pet is healthy enough to travel and that all vaccinations are up to date. Tip: By comparing pet insurance options, you can find out which provider covers the treatments your pet needs in order to travel.
3. Make sure your pet has ID
You would never travel without identification, and neither should your pet. Microchipping is the most permanent form of ID and will increase the likelihood of reuniting with your pet if he gets lost on the trip. At the very least, make sure your little friend has a collar with your phone number on it.
4. Bring small pets in the cabin whenever possible
According to Phil Derner of NYCAviation.com, you should not put pets in the cargo hold of an airplane if you can possibly avoid it. Luckily, most airlines now allow passengers to bring small pets into the cabin. Keeping your pet in front of you is ideal because you can tidy up his carrier if he soils it, give him sips of water and feed have snacks to keep him happy.
5. Keep larger pets happy
If you have a larger pet that must travel with you, he will, of course, have to travel in the plane’s cargo hold. This requires extra preparation. Although carriers are strapped down in the cargo area, there is no way to guarantee your pet won’t get bounced around during take off, landing or turbulence. Line the crate with potty pads and give him an extra-soft blanket to lay on. Don’t leave food or water in bowls, as there is a good chance it will spill all over the crate.
6. Buy an appropriate pet carrier
Your pet will need to be transported in an FAA-approved carrier. Soft-sided carriers are more appropriate for carry-on because they tend to fit under the seat better than hard carriers. Check with your airline for size and other restrictions.
Airlines require carriers that are big enough for your pet to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. If your pet can’t do this, most airlines will refuse to let him fly.
7. Practice traveling before your trip
Practice traveling with your pet to get him used to being in his carrier. In the weeks leading up to the flight, put your pet in his carrier and go for a drive. Continue to increase the duration of your trips until your pet is content staying in the carrier for a long time.
8. Don’t give your pet Valium
Do not give your pet Benedryl or Valium before a flight. If you have a particularly anxious pet and if you want to give him a tranquilizer, make sure to discuss it with your veterinarian first.
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