Many of us are very used to travel by airplane, but not so used to traveling with our pets. Here are some common concerns and recommendations for those high flying pets.
Cats generally fly in an airline-approved carrier under the seat in front of their owner. Please line the carrier with several layers of newpaper. This allows you to reach in and roll up the top layer in case of accidents, without removing the cat. When traveling it is best to not take the cat out of the carrier, because many cats will bolt and flee when scared and be impossible to recatch. For high strung cats, it is best to not even reach in, because they may bite unexpectedly when stressed. Cats should be healthy and vaccinated against Rabies and FVRCP for travel. A health exam for traveling may be required, dependent on the airline and the destination, so please check this out in advance of traveling. It is better for the cat to fly on an empty stomach, leaving less chance of vomiting or defecation during the trip. Cats who feel hidden, like in a crate under a seat, feel safer than cats that feel exposed or out in the open. Some cats even prefer the carrier to be covered in a blanket or sheet, to feel more hidden. It is generally recommended that your cat travel drug-free for the safest travel, but if you have concerns about anxiety or constant meowing during the flight, please discuss this with your veterinarian.
Dogs can fly in an airline-approved carrier under the seat in the airplane, but if they won't fit there they fly in cargo with the suitcases. Recommendations for flying on the plane under the seat are the same as for the cat, except have a leash, poop bags and handiwipes with you. Some airports have specific bathroom stop areas for dogs and others will require you keep the dog crated until you are out of the airport. So, again, travel on an empty stomach with preplanned bathroom stops are helpful to your pet.
Dogs flying in cargo are exposed to many more stresses than dogs flying in the plane, including it is hotter, colder, louder and they are alone. The airlines should be following stringent rules about the length of time your pet can be exposed to extremes of cold and hot, so you may find the airline cancelling your dog's flight to Phoenix in July or Anchorage in January, out of safety concerns. Drug-free travel is the safest way to travel, but if you are concerned about anxiety, stress, or self-damage with trying to escape from the crate, please discuss this with your veterinarian well in advance of your travel plans.
Dogs that are flying should be used to being crated (crate trained). No dogs should be subjected to flying that are not used to being crated.
International flights require special paperwork and sometimes require the dog to be closed in the crate by a state veterinarian with a seal indicating appropriate paperwork and testing is done. Travel to Rabies free areas like Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Hawaii, Japan require Rabies titering and layers of paperwork that take a minimum of 6 months before traveling, so please plan accordingly!
Our veterinarians are specially accredited to assist in the appropriate travel paperwork.
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