Flying with your pet for the holiday? Here are some tips to get your pet safely to your destination.
1. The first thing you need to do is make an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian for a wellness exam, and make sure all the vaccinations are up-to-date. Obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian dated within 10 days of departure. For travel outside of the continental United States, additional planning and health care requirements may be necessary. Contact the airlines and check their policies and the foreign office of the country you are traveling to for more information.
2. Book a direct flight if possible. This will decrease the chances that your pet is left on the tarmac during extreme weather conditions or mishandled by baggage personnel.
3. DO NOT sedate your pet for air travel. According to American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), sedateding your pets for a flight may be fatal. The effects of sedating drugs are unpredictable at air pressures inside an aircraft at 8,000 ft altitude. Over sedation is the most frequent cause of animal fatalities during airline transport and accounts for more than half of all deaths when flying. “An animal’s natural ability to balance and maintain equilibrium is altered under sedation,” noted Dr. Patricia Olson, a director of the American Humane Association (AHA). “When the kennel is moved, a sedated animal may not be able to brace and prevent injury.” JAVMA, Vol 207, No.l 6, September 15, 1995.
4. Freeze a small dish or tray of water for your pet. This way, it can’t spill during loading, and will melt by the time he’s thirsty. Tape a small pouch of dry food outside the crate. Airline personnel will be able to feed your pet on long-distance flights or a layover.
5. Make sure all flight employees know you have a pet flying in the cargo hold. This way, they will know if any additional considerations or attention is needed. The pilot also controls the heat and cooling in the hold.
6. Make sure your crate is ready for travel. Write the words “Live Animal” in a large font on top and on the side of your crate. Use arrows to indicate the upright position of the crate. Also include your name, address, and phone number, and a photo of your pet on the crate. Make sure that the door is securely closed, but not with a lock that needs a key, so that airline personnel can open it in case of an emergency. Zip ties work great to make sure your pet’s crate is secure and can be cut my personel in case of an emergency.
7. Make sure your pet has a microchip for identification and is wearing a collar and ID tag.