You’re going on a trip by air and you don’t want to leave Fido at home. Unfortunately, pet air travel, particularly during the summer months can be fraught with danger to your pet if you don’t take the proper precautions. Unless other accomodations are made, animals are generally transported in the cargo hold where temperatures can reach dangerous levels in the summer. There have been numerous reports of pets dying during flights due to extreme temperature changes. What can you do to lessen the hazards of pet air travel?
1. Consider taking your pet on board, if possible.
This is by far the safest way for your pet to travel by air. Usually this option is only available for smaller dogs or cats. Call the airlines well ahead of your planned trip and find out what the requirements for carrying your pet on board the flight would be. You pet may need documentation of immunization as well as a certain type of pet carrier to quality. There may also be weight and size restrictions. Be aware of these before you book your flight.
If your pet doesn’t qualify to fly on board the airline with you and you want him to still be transported with you, take these precautions to help protect your pet:
2. Don’t fly during a busy travel time or on a holiday. There’s more of a risk of mix up and the possibility of your pet being mishandled. Choose a light travel day such as a weekday during a non holiday period.
3. Make your pet easy to identify.
Your pet’s carrier should have the name, address and phone number attached to it as well as your destination address and phone number. Attach the same information to your pet’s collar.
4. Ask to be present when your pet is loaded and unloaded into the cargo hold.
Watch closely to be sure your pet is being handled humanely during the loading and unloading process.
5. Inform the captain and airline stewardess of your pet’s presence.
May airline captains and flight attendants have pets of their own and will take extra precautions if they’re aware of your pet’s presence in the cargo hold. You may want to show a photo of your pet to make it more personal.
6. Avoid the cargo hold during periods of extreme temperature.
Many airlines will prohibit animals from flying in the cargo hold during periods of extreme temperature. Even if they have no rule, don’t take any chances. The temperature is not well regulated in the area where pets are flown. You may also want to plan on an early morning flight in the summer when temperatures are warm.
7. Avoid feeding your animal prior to the flight.
Don’t give your pet any food within 6 hours of your flight. Your pet could experience air sickness and you don’t want to risk him aspirating his vomit under stressful conditions. Make sure your dog has water prior to the flight.
8. Check with your veterinarian before pet air travel.
Make sure your veterinarian has examined your dog and has precluded any medical conditions that might be affected by pet air travel. Never transport Persian cats, Chow dogs, or Pekingese dogs in the cargo hold. Their short nasal passages may make them susceptible to overheating.
When you reach your final destination, do a rapid assessment of your pet to make sure there are no signs of stress or mishandling. Pet air travel can be safe if proper precautions are taken and its nice to have your pet around to join in the vacation fun!