Shelbee’s Note: It is a fact that has been proven through multitudes of studies that pets have a powerful healing impact on the lives of humans. Pets keep us grounded. They offer unconditional love. They provide companionship. And they all around enrich our lives. I grew up in a family that always had a dog. In adulthood, I became much more of a cat lover and have had cats for the past 20 years. I can quite honestly say that there were times in my life when my feline friends literally saved my life. We currently have two cats in our family, Dave and Frankie, and we just added a bunny named George the other day. It is a weird phenomenon that I noticed the day we brought George home. I get a sense of calm just from his presence. He doesn’t do much. Yet. He is still getting acquainted with us. But his energy soothes me as I sit and watch him. There is a wisdom in his big rabbit eyes that draws me in and offers me comfort. Pets are important. And they can make us feel important. On that note, the article below outlines some really great information if you need to travel with your beloved pet. While this article is geared specifically towards dogs, there are many helpful tips that you may find useful for any pets that you may need to travel with.
“An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language.” ― Martin Buber
How to Prepare Your Dog for Flight
You may have already trained your dog to travel by car. They may jump for joy at the sight of their leash or you opening the car door for them. However, airplanes and airport terminals for a dog are a whole different ball game. If you are thinking about taking your dog on a flight, there is a bit of advance planning and preparation needed before you do so.
Research the Airline’s Requirements
First things first, check if the airline you want to fly with will accept your dog on their flights. Air carriers all have their own individual policies. Unless you are flying with a service dog or emotional support dog, there will also be extra charges to fly your pooch. For example, you may want to know, “How much does it cost to fly a dog on Delta?”
For airlines that do allow pets on their flights, they will also have a restriction on the total number. The policy is usually “first in, first served” with pets and animals, so if you arrive too late, you might not be able to get your dog on the flight. If you are traveling with a dog, you may also have an earlier check-in time. So be sure to check the details when planning your travel schedule.
Cabin or Cargo?
Some airlines will allow your dog to fly in the cabin with you. However, there may be restrictions on the size of the dog. There may also be requirements for your dog to be in a pet carrier in the cabin and not just on a leash. To fly a dog in the cargo hold, you will need to check out the airline’s requirements for size and construction of their pet carrier or crate.
Health and Breed Suitability
Airlines are likely to ask for a health certificate to say your dog is well enough to fly as well as evidence of vaccinations and rabies shots. Some airlines do ban certain breeds of dogs for the safety of both the dog itself and other passengers. This may include breeds considered dangerous or aggressive. Brachycephalic breeds such as pugs that have flat faces are also often restricted. It can be harder for these breeds to breathe in the air pressure of an airplane.
Get Your Dog a Check-Up
Take your dog to your vet to check they are well enough to fly. Dogs that are very young, elderly, or generally unwell do not fly well. Your vet will be able to give you the documentation that your airline might require to confirm your dog is good to fly in the sky and is up to date with shots. You should also seek the advice of a veterinarian about the best ways to keep your particular dog calm during travel. The vet is a great source of information about how to take care of your dog during the flight especially if your dog is anxious or excitable.
Get Your Dog Used to Its Crate or Carrier
Make sure your dog’s crate or carrier meets your airline’s requirements for size and construction. It also needs to fit and be comfortable for your dog. Your dog is going to need to be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down easily in their crate. If your dog hasn’t had much time kenneled or in a crate before, get them used to it before you go. Use positive reinforcement with toys and treats to enter and exit the kennel and make it a happy safe place.
Reinforce Your Training
You may have the best-trained dog in the world, but if they have never been to a busy airport terminal before, expect their behavior to be a little different. Make sure your dog responds to basic dog obedience commands and is bathroom trained. If you can, take them to an airport terminal in the days before your flight. If you are unable to visit the airport before hand, you can find plenty of audio and video clips of airport and aircraft sounds online to help desensitize your dog. Airports and aircraft are noisy places and this will help familiarize them with the different sounds.
Identify Your Dog
Make sure your dog is wearing identification that has their name, your name, and your mobile phone number. If your dog isn’t already microchipped, consider asking your vet to do so. Also make sure their crate, carrier, and any leashes or harnesses are also identified clearly.
Get Their Gear Ready
Aside from collars, leashes, harnesses, and other gear, it is essential to have some of their regular food or treats on hand to reward good behavior. During the flight, you are not likely to be feeding your dog but have food on hand for any unexpected delays. It also pays to have on hand some dog-poo bags just in case you do need them, along with wet wipes or paper towels to clean-up.
Before You Board the Plane
On the day of your flight, you will need to think about your dog’s input and output in terms of food and exercise. Hydration is a must for everyone who flies. Your dog is going to need water during the flight. But their food and water intake should balance out with the length of the flight as well as where and when they can have toilet stops. These days, many airport terminals have designated toilet areas for animals. Check out where these are located or where you will be able to give your dog the last toilet stop on the way to the airport. They will need a restroom stop before they board. Also make sure your dog gets in a good walk or run before you board the plane. This will help release any excess energy and probably lead them to lie down and taking a nap during the flight.
During the Flight
Keep your dog comfortable during the flight whether they are with you in the cabin or in the cargo hold. A familiar blanket, toy, or item of your clothing can help reassure them in their crate. Most importantly, do everything you can for both you and your dog to enjoy your flight and arrive safely at your destination! If you have a particular fear of flying yourself or other emotional or psychological condition that impacts your ability to travel, chat with a health care professional. You may qualify to fly your dog with you as an emotional support animal.
“Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.” – Dean Koontz
Have you ever traveled by airplane with a pet? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share?
Keeping it on the edge,