The Do's And Do Not's of Pet Air Travel

Missing the family pet during an otherwise great family vacation? Why not bring them along on the next trip? Perhaps you're worried about how they might take to traveling by air? The questions behind pet air travel can no longer be used as an excuse to leave a family member at home. Follow these few simple guidelines and you'll quickly become an expert on airline pet travel.

We've all heard horror stories of pets being lost or mistreated through pet air travel.  Luckily, today's knowledgeable pet owners are eliminating that possibility with a few simply steps before they get anywhere near an airport.  Learning these few easy steps can help you insure that your pet air travel experience is a completely positive one.

First and foremost, if you don't already own one, purchase an airline approved traveling crate for your pet.  Pet air travel simply cannot be done without one.  You may find (depending on the airline's regulations) that your pet is small enough to travel in a carry on crate along with you.  Your feline's first cat vacation, for example, may simply involve her sitting in a crate at your feet for a few hours until you reach your destination.  Those with larger pets however, will find that their airlines pet travel experience forces them to be separated from their pet for the length of the flight.  Not to worry however, as with no distractions around, many pets will simply sleep through the trip.  In either case, for pet air travel, your furry friend will need a crate large enough to stand up and turn around in, but no larger, as too much space can create safety issues.  Take special care to make sure your pet air travel crate is clearly marked with your contact information (cell phone numbers are generally best in this case as you won't be home to receive anyone's call), and any other special instructions you feel are necessary.  Before securing your pet in his crate, make sure he is wearing a collar with readable identification tags attached.  This will prevent his inadvertent loss should he manage to open his crate somehow while in transit. 

It may also be a good idea to take your pet's food and water away for about four hours just prior to your trip.  This is done to insure your pet's stomach is empty while he travels, a key factor if pet air travel results in making him slightly queasy. Cats can be especially susceptible to uneasy stomachs when traveling, so make sure to prepare for your next cat vacation with a few hours of pre-trip fasting for your feline friend.  If you already know that your animal has a distinct problem with airline pet travel, you may want to consider having your veterinarian prescribe a mild tranquilizer to help your pet sleep during the trip.  Make sure you advise your veterinarian if your pet will be traveling alongside you or away from you (i.e.: in the cargo hold of the plane) during the trip.  A lighter tranquilizer may be best for those you cannot keep a direct eye on, just to prevent any complications or unexpected reactions.

Current vaccinations are also an absolute necessity when considering pet air travel.  Your pet should be up to date on all vaccinations, and should have an up to date general exam as well.  Most veterinarians will provide a health certificate (which most airlines require a copy of when you check in) if you simply ask, and it is a good idea to carry a copy with you to prevent any issues while you travel.

All in all, establishing a few basic things before heading to the airport can help your pet air travel experience proceed smoothly and easily.  And simply taking the extra time to complete them will have you enjoying both the companionship of your pet and the relaxation of a vacation on your next family trip.

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