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Safety Tips for Air Travel with Your Pet

Air Travel with Pets

                With the promise of warmer weather on the horizon, many of us look forward to traveling and sometimes that includes traveling with our pets.  While it is often better to leave pets at home with trusted pet sitters or in a boarding facility, sometimes a move or extended trip makes taking a pet along for the ride a necessity.  While an estimated two million pet travel by air in the United States each year, air travel in particular can be tricky business when flying with our furry friends, especially with recent stories of pets dying aboard airplanes.  Learn how to make airline travel with your favorite fur baby as safe as possible.

                If at all possible, travel with your pet in the main cabin.  Small dogs and cats have the advantage here as pets in the cabin must fit under the seat in their carriers.  If your pet is larger and must go in the cargo hold, make sure the crate is regulation and that your pet is secure.  Most airlines that fly pets have temperature-controlled cargo areas, but it never hurts to ask what the accommodations are like or what the procedure for handling pets is for a particular airline.

                Sedatives can be a mixed bag.  If your pet truly panics and you must take her with you, a mild sedative may make the trip easier.  But there can be risks such as low blood pressure, changes in breathing or other undesirable effects, especially in short-nosed breeds like bulldogs.  It is also recommended to not feed your pet or feed only a light meal prior to take off. 

                When booking a flight with your pet, try to book early and inform the airline that you are flying with your pet.  A direct or non-stop flight is also preferred whenever possible.  Be sure to check airline pet safety records and policies.  Take all necessary vaccine records, pertinent health records, health certificates and a photo of your pet and keep duplicates in your carry on as well as attached to your pet’s crate, especially if he is traveling in cargo.  Pet carriers should also be marked as containing live animals with a prominent sticker.  Make sure to pack enough of any medications your pet takes for the duration of the trip.

                Specific criteria must often be met weeks to months in advance of traveling outside the United States, so do your research early if you must travel to another country with your pet.

                Finally, it may be a good idea to find a 24 hour emergency veterinary clinic at your destination and store the phone number and address in your phone in case there is a problem with your pet on arrival or anytime during your trip.

                Flying with a pet can be stressful and, if other arrangements can be made, it may be best to travel without your pet.  But, if your pet must accompany you, make sure all paperwork is in order, choose the most direct flight possible and make sure to inform the airline that your pet is flying with you.  These steps should limit things going wrong on your trip.

                This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.


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