5 Things You Should Know About Flying With Your Dog

‘Tis the season of travel as we try to connect with loved ones – including the furry family members in our lives. The major part of the season is over, but traveling home may still be on your agenda.  Traveling by plane is a popular choice for those that have long journeys and limited time to get to their destination. Many pet owners are concerned about putting their beloved animals on planes, particularly because they are not certain what the process entails.

If you are thinking about traveling with a pet this holiday season, here is some basic information that every animal lover needs to know.

  • Crossing the border  – there was a time when crossing the border between the US and Canada required quarantine. Today, if you aren’t one of the countries on the rabies-free list, you simply need to have proof that your dog is up to date on all required vaccinations. Contact information for a vet should also be included. This is just a precaution in case customs officers need to confirm that you are presenting them with legitimate vaccination history.
  • Airplane transport – Dogs are allowed to ride in the main passenger cabin of an airplane, provided that owners abide by specific guidelines.  For example, the dog and approved carrier combined cannot way more than 100 lbs; although all guidelines do vary by airline. Of course, like all carry-on there is also a size/dimension limit. This is because your smaller dog must but safely stowed under the seat for takeoff and landing for safety reasons. You should also be aware that most airlines won’t put anymore than 4-6 dogs on any given flight, and a passenger is only allowed to travel with one pet of any denomination. If you have a larger dog, or there is no more room in the cabin of the airplane, your dog can travel in the cargo hold.
  • Cargo hold transport – if your dog is going to be traveling in the cargo hold of the airplane, it is important that they are given sufficient time to eat and drink before their journey to prevent discomfort or dehydration. But after that four hour period, only limited amounts of water should be provided to avoid mess. Food and drink can also spill if transported with the dog, and should be left out of the crate. Also be aware that the cargo hold of a plane is not typically climate controlled, so it follows extreme weather trends. So much so that at certain times of year some airlines will not allow dogs to be transported this way at all. Follow this link for more information on WestJet’s pet policy.
  • Make sure your dog is easily identifiable – baggage tags on your dog’s crate have the potential to become detached and go missing. Having your dog micro chipped ensures that once found, someone will be able to contact you (the owners). You can also consider embroidering a collar or having a traditional dog tag applied. In any case, the more identification the better!
  • Talk to your vet – is there any reason that your vet thinks that your dog shouldn’t fly? If your dog is likely to be over-anxious on the plane this is also a good reason to ask about calming supplements or medication.

There is plenty more to learn about traveling with a pet on an airplane, even at the most basic level. So share your stories about pet travel. Bonus points if your story takes place during the holidays, and on an airplane!

Image via: Flickr Creative Commons (mikecogh)

 

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