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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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Dr. Michael Dym
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Tips For Traveling With Your Pet By Air

Flying can be hectic, especially if you're traveling with your pet by air for the first time.

Luckily, airlines safely fly thousands of pets to their destinations each year. With a few extra preparatory steps, you can bring your pet anywhere you go without much added stress.

Booking Your Flight

Before purchasing plane tickets for yourself, make sure that your airline accepts pets, and get familiar with their pet policy. Most airlines do not allow flat-faced breeds because they are more prone to breathing issues when traveling at high altitudes. Some airlines, unfortunately, restrict breeds that they believe are prone to aggression, such as Pit Bulls.

Cats and small dogs can travel in the cabin with you if they can fit in an airline-approved carrier under the seat in front of you. They should be able to comfortably sit, stand, and turn around inside the carrier.

Your pet will count as one of your carry-on items. You will typically have to pay a fee to take your pet as a carry-on in the airplane cabin with you.

After you purchase your own ticket, you'll need to call the airline to make a pet reservation and pay the carry-on pet fee.

If your pet is too large to fit in a carrier, they will have to travel in the cargo area as checked baggage. The cargo area of the plane is typically not temperature controlled, and the airline may not allow pets to travel in cargo at all if it's dangerously hot or cold outside.

In the cargo area, your pet will need to be confined in a hard-sided, airline approved kennel. They should be able to comfortably sit, stand, and turn around inside the kennel.

Depending on your airline and the length of the flight, you may also need to provide food, stored in a baggie attached to the kennel. Food and water bowls should be affixed to the inside of the kennel, and it should be possible to fill them without opening the door.

The Week Before Your Flight

Visit your veterinarian about a week before the flight to make sure your pet is healthy enough to fly. You may be required to bring a health certificate and proof of vaccination from your veterinarian issued no more than ten days before the day of travel.

Double-check your airline's pet policy before you travel, as policies vary between airlines and are subject to change. If you cannot find information online, it's best to call the airline to ask questions directly.

On The Day Of Travel

Walk your dog or play with your cat to help tire them out before travel. They'll feel calmer if they're able to sleep through much of the flight.

Always make sure your pet has access to water, both before and during the flight. High altitudes can exacerbate dehydration. Keeping your pet hydrated is more important than preventing an accident. Line your pet's carrier or kennel with absorbent bedding to keep them clean and dry in case they cannot hold their bladder.

If your pet is traveling via cargo, you'll need to verify that they have been fed no more than four hours before. Offer your pet a calming treat such as Calming Hemp Soft Chews.

Recommended Calming Treats for Pets

You can also place an unlaundered t-shirt in your pet's kennel. Your pet may be soothed by your familiar scent until you're reunited at the end of the journey.

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