Flying With Pets: Mistakes To Avoid

There are many reasons as to why you may want or need to bring your pet with you on a flight. Perhaps you’re relocating and are bringing your pet with you, or maybe it’s more economical to take your pet with you on a trip than it would be to pay a boarding facility. Either way, most airlines allow pets to travel on their flights; the key is following their guidelines and taking measures to keep your pet as comfortable as possible along the way.

By avoiding some of the most common mistakes people make when flying with pets, you can ensure smooth travels for you and your furry friend.

Flying With A Nervous or Anxious Pet

First of all, recognize when you have a pet who will simply not do well with the stress of traveling. Not all pets are adaptable. If you have a pet who gets easily anxious or doesn’t do well with change, you may be better off leaving your pet at home or finding an alternative mode of transportation. The hustle and bustle of the airport, combined with the noise and movement of being on an airplane, can be extremely stressful to some pets.

At the end of the day, you know your pet best. If you’re not sure how your pet will do on a flight, it may be better to make other travel arrangements. In some cases, your vet may be able to prescribe a dose of medication to calm your pet during the flight; this medication can be administered directly before the flight to soothe your pet, so be sure to ask your vet about it if this is something you’re worried about.

Not Having Your Pet Microchipped

While the likelihood of your pet going missing during travel is low, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Is your pet microchipped? If not, now is the time to have this quick and easy procedure done at your local vet’s office. Microchipping your pet will greatly improve your chances of recovery if he or she goes missing.

If your pet is already microchipped, check with your vet to make sure your contact information associated with the chip is up-to-date. If not, you will probably need to call the microchip company to provide them with your new information.

Overlooking Vaccine Requirements

No matter which airline you’re flying, you’ll need to make sure your pet is up-to-date on all required vaccinations. In most cases, this will include (at minimum) a recent rabies vaccine within the past 1-3 years. Some airlines may require additional vaccines as well. You’ll need to bring in proof of vaccination, which your vet should be able to provide you with in the form of a print-out. In some cases, you may also be able to have your vet fax or e-mail your pet’s most recent vaccination records directly to the airline.

Failing to Check Your Airline’s Policies

Each airline has the ability to set their own policies and ground rules for those traveling with pets. Therefore, if you’ve traveled with your pet on one airline before but are traveling through another airline this time, the rules may be different. Be sure to thoroughly research and read up on your airline’s requirements and airport security measures when it comes to vaccines, restraining your pet, breed restrictions, and the like. Never assume that what was allowed on one airline will automatically be allowed on another; aside from laws and regulations on service animals, individual airlines more-or-less have the final say.

Letting Your Pet Travel in the Cargo Bay

Sadly, some airlines will still require pets to travel in the cargo bay of an airplane. These areas are typically not climate controlled and can be extremely noisy and stressful to a pet. Ideally, you’ll want to fly with an airline that will allow you to stay with your pet at all times rather than treating your pet as a piece of luggage. Many airlines will gladly allow you to bring your pet aboard the plane so long as he or she is in a carrier or otherwise restrained (such as on a leash).

Not Researching Veterinarians At Your Destination

No matter where you’ll be traveling, you’ll want to be prepared. Take some time to research veterinarians at your destination so that you’ll know who to call in the event that your pet becomes ill or is injured once you arrive. Ideally, you’ll want to find a veterinarian that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While it is unlikely that your pet will need to see a vet, it’s always best to be prepared for the unexpected. The last thing you want is to have to scramble to find an emergency vet if your pet falls ill after traveling.

Traveling with a pet can be an enjoyable experience for both of you, but it’s important to take the right precautions to avoid common problems. By being aware of these common mistakes and how to avoid them, you and your pet can safely and easily make it to your destination.

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