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Small dog sitting in pet carrier at airport

How to prepare for air travel with your pet

No matter how seasoned you are, traveling can be extremely stressful. Packing for your trip, waiting in long security lines and delayed flight times can be a nightmare and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. If you are planning to bring your dog or cat along, you will have additional preparations to make to ensure your travels run smoothly. 

What does the airline require to fly with your pet?

It’s important to review all airline guidelines for pet travel in advance of your trip. Each airline has different regulations: for example, some airlines do not allow pets to travel in cargo. A great place to check the rules for a specific airline is Bring Fido, an online pet travel directory. Some airlines require a vet exam 30 days prior to your flight, while others require an exam and rabies vaccination 10 days prior. Also, be sure your pet’s carrier accommodates airlines requirements for safety and size. If traveling internationally with your pet, you may need to get your pet microchipped with a brand that is approved by your destination country. If you do not meet all of the requirements of a specific international location (including Hawaii), your pet may be detained and quarantined for several days or weeks! The USDA website has more info about international pet travel. 

Making sure your pet is comfortable

To help ensure your pet is safe, comfortable and less stressed during the flight, get your pet used to being in the carrier before travel. Offer plenty of water, but restrict food 6 hours prior to flight. Take them for a potty break before you check in for your flight and line the carrier with towels or blankets for comfort and to absorb any mess they might make. The carrier should be clearly labeled with your pet’s name and address, any medical information, and feeding and water instructions should he/she be waiting in cargo for an extended period of time. Never give your pet a sedative before they travel cargo unless specifically prescribed by a veterinarian, as the sedative effects their ability to balance, which could lead to injury during a bumpy flight. 

Enjoy the journey!

Eliminate the stress of traveling with your pet by researching the airline policies–including international policies—prior to your trip. If you have questions or concerns about traveling with your pet, your veterinarian is a valuable source of information. It’s important that your pet’s travel experience is comfortable and stress-free, so that you can enjoy a nice vacation with your four-legged friend!

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