Safe flying with your pet

Safe flying with your pet


In our previous blog post we mentioned that under certain circumstances, you can take your pet on board an airplane. This is great if you're planning on being away for an extended period of time, such as when living interstate, for example. However, flying with your pet is not recommended for shorter trips, because it can cause considerable stress. If you do intend to fly with your pet, always notify the airline well in advance and follow their individual guidelines carefully, as most are able to refuse allowing you pet to travel at their discretion. A dog can travel in the luggage hold in an approved International Air Transport Association crate which you can hire or buy from a company such as Dogtainers. Some dogs with flat noses have respiratory problems, whereas others have thick coats that might result in overheating on the flight - bear this in mind when considering air travel with your pet.

Start your preparations early

If you wish to avoid any unwelcome surprises or last-minute cancellations, it's important to begin your preparations at least 3 months in advance, beginning with a quick trip to the vet. Aside from being healthy, at least 8 months old and free of aggression, your vet will give your dog the all-clear for all the required vaccinations, worming and microchipping. Check with your airline to determine exactly which type of kennel or travel crate you require. The specifications and dimensions may vary per dog, but also per airline. Once you've purchased or hired the correct kennel, allow your dog to gradually get used to it. A few weeks prior to travel, place it in your home with the door open and leave something tasty inside. This way the kennel will become a safe den in which your pet feels totally at ease. Additional tip: attach a label to the kennel that displays your dog's name and information, any health and nutritional instructions, as well as your own name and contact details. Provide your dog with a collar containing the same information.

Photo: Flickr

As stated previously, your pet's travel documents and vaccination records must be current and complete for them to be permitted to board the plane. If taking your dog overseas, special quarantine regulations may also apply to certain destinations. Always check the information provided by the embassy at the destination thoroughly, as a quarantine provision may stipulate that your pet remains in quarantine for several weeks or months before being allowed to join you.

Flights can be quite stressful for animals, however, you should avoid giving your dog sedatives. Temperature and pressure variations can cause a dog to become ill or even fall unconscious. If you wish to relieve their stress, then consider homeopathic treatments, such as Bach Flower Remedies. Always consult an expert beforehand.

Take your dog for a long walk prior to departure: this will not only allow them sufficient opportunity to make a quick toilet stop, it will also burn off any excess energy and increase the likelihood that they will sleep soundly on the plane. Provide a supply of water right up until the moment of departure, but give your dog their last meal at least 4 hours in advance. In order to prevent nausea, it should also be a readily digestible meal that your dog is already accustomed to. Don't place a water bowl in the travel crate, as this will only end up spilling, making the journey extremely uncomfortable for your pet. Most approved crates include spill-proof water containers for your dog's comfort.

During the flight

Unfortunately, your pet won't be able to leave his travel crate or basket during the flight. Make sure that the travel travel crate contains a favourite chew toy, stuffed animal or an of item of your clothing with your scent on it, as this will help to calm your dog.

After the flight

Your pet will have been unable to eat throughout the flight and might have been too anxious to drink much, so have a water bowl and a preferred treat ready for landing. If possible, take your dog for a thorough walk as soon as you get the opportunity. But don't expect your dog to immediately wag their tail and resume normal, cheerful behaviour. A flight is a major event for a dog and it can really take a few days or even weeks to get over it! Your dog might not want to eat, drink or do their business at first. Don't try to force it or get frustrated - allow your pet to quietly recover and be extra nice to them instead. It is important to keep an eye on their overall health after a flight though. Notice anything unusual or suspicious? Then take him to a vet for a professional examination.

Reeling from all the advice? Hardly surprising! Indeed, flying with an animal is a complex operation that requires meticulous preparation. If you prefer to travel without your pet, then make sure you book a loving pet sitter well in advance. That way both pet and pet sitter can meet and get to know each other before you leave!

Have a good trip!