Many pet owners can’t stand the idea of leaving a pet behind when taking taking a trip. Rather than boarding their dog or cat, many choose to bring their pet along for the ride. Here are 10 tips for preparing a pet for travel.
1. Check with your airline to find out what documents are required for pet travel.
2. Airlines limit the number of pets on each flight, so check with the airline in advance to secure a reservation as early as possible.
3. Interstate health certificates are required by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for travel between states. The airline you (and your pet) are traveling on may or may not require a health certificate. Health certificates require a physical examination by a licensed veterinarian and must be signed on the day of the examination. Health certificates require pets to be current on their rabies vaccinations unless they are too young to be vaccinated. Health certificates are good for 30 days from the date they are signed. If a pet is traveling via cargo, a health certificate must be signed within 10 days of travel.
4. Check with your airline regarding feeding and watering requirements prior to travel. Depending on the feeding guidelines, a small meal a few hours before the flight is appropriate and may be required by the airline, especially if the flight is long and the pet is flying under the cabin or in cargo. Pets flying under the cabin must have a water dish that can attach to the kennel door and can be filled without opening the carrier. Pets traveling in the cabin can be given water by their owners.
5. Purchase an airline-approved carrier for your pet that allows him/her to stand, sit and turn around. Carriers for pets traveling in airplane cabins will need to be able to fit under the seat. Hard sided carriers may be required for travel by the airline—check with your airline at the time of reservation.
6. It is important to acclimate your pet to their crate prior to the day of departure. You can begin feeding your pet inside the crate as well as providing treats/toys for them so they associate the crate as being a safe and positive place.
7. Line the bottom of the crate with some type of bedding—puddle pads or towels work well to absorb accidents. For pets traveling in the cabin, bringing an extra set of bedding and a plastic bag to seal soiled bedding makes the flight much more pleasant for everyone.
8. Write the name, address and telephone number of the destination point of your pet, whether you are traveling with them or someone else is picking them up. Secure this information to the top of the carrier prior to departure.
9. Make sure your pet (whether traveling with you or separately) has a properly fitting harness or collar with current identification and appropriate contact information, especially a current phone number. It is also a good idea to have a current photograph of your pet in case they accidently escape or become separated from you while traveling.
10. Make sure that your pet’s nails are properly trimmed in order to reduce their ability to hook their nails in the carrier’s door, holes or other crevices during travel.
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