With the holidays around the corner, and in the middle of a global pandemic, travel is a bit more complicated than usual. Flying with a pet and keeping your best friend safe during travel can be a source of anxiety for many pet owners, but with a little planning ahead of time, your fur or feather baby can accompany you. This is especially true if they are a therapy pet like a Golden Retriever.
Having your pet with you will save you the worry of leaving your beloved friend behind and will enrich your vacation experience with affection and lovely memories to hold dear.
Here are some travel tips for flying with your pet along to your holiday adventure:
Make a Plan
Vacations require a minimum of planning especially if you plan on flying. As soon as you have established dates and locations, get your airline reservations. Most airline companies will allow a very limited number of pets on each flight, so the earlier you make your reservation, the better chance you have of getting your pet a place. Waiting till the last-minute means risking you going alone or that you don’t go at all.
Know the Airline Pet Policy
Get information about your chosen airline’s pet policy so that you won’t have unexpected problems at the airport. Pets are permitted to travel on commercial airlines in one of three ways:
- In the cabin as a carry on
- As checked baggage
- As manifest cargo
Some service animals are permitted to accompany a disabled person in the cabin. The method selected will depend a great deal on the size of your pet.
Pet Identification Is a Priority
Your pet needs to always have identification, particularly if you travel. If by any chance your pet gets separated from you or your flight, airline personnel must be able to identify the animal to be able to return it to its rightful owner. Most pets without identification never are reunited with their families.
Make sure your pet has a pet ID tag and that the tag has your cell phone number. A home phone number can be included if someone can answer the phone. You can always add a second ID tag to the pet collar with your destination contact information unless you will be moving around.
One of the best ways to for identification is the use of a pet microchip. Should your pet get separated from you, veterinarians, shelter officials, and animal control personnel will be able to read the microchip and find you in the global database. This is the best way to find you and reunite owners with pets.
The Pet Crate or Carrier
If you will be flying, getting a pet crate is mandatory. A crate will keep your pet safe during the flight and afford a sense of security to your best friend. Airline companies will have guidelines for kennels regardless of if your pet is a carry-on or checked. It is important for you to verify what those requirements are because if the crate does not meet the demands, your pet will not be allowed to board.
Live animal stickers need to be placed on all sides and the top of crates as well as a Shipper’s Declaration that states when your pet was last fed and watered if he or she is checked. Your pet’s name and your contact information must be attached securely and discernable. Wheels must be removed or taped so the crate cannot roll in the baggage or cargo hold.
Pet pads are a good idea when traveling by air as these will protect the carrier from accidents.
Food and Water
Check with your Vet to see how late your pet should eat and drink before flying. Water bowls and food bowls can be attached to rigid checked or cargo crates during the flight.
Tranquilizers should be avoided in favor of natural calmers, but your Vet will be the person to consult.
If your pet is a carry-on, you will have to accompany the animal through security. The pet should be removed from the carrier before the carrier is examined in the x-ray machine. You can carry or walk your pet through the scanner with a non-metal leash and then place it back in the carrier once the security has finished.
Pets and owners are subject to pat-downs.
If you are traveling internationally, check to see which veterinary certificates are required and if there are quarantine requirements.
Also research your destination to find the nearest veterinarian to where you are staying, dog parks, as well as pet-friendly businesses, hotels, and restaurants. Advance preparation pays off.
Now have a great flight!