Flying with a dog; Best practices for traveling with your pet.

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Flying with a dog; Best practices for traveling with your pet.

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Flying with a Dog: 9 Best Practices for Traveling with Your Pet

If you cannot bear the idea of traveling without your beloved dog, then you are in good company. According to a survey conducted by Go Pet-Friendly, over half of all pet owners travel with their pets by car more than six times a month. The number of pets traveling by plane is also on the rise, prompting many major airports such as Houston International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport to expand their onsite pet relief facilities.

While airlines are making it easier for you and your dog to travel together, it is up to you as a pet owner to ensure that you adhere to relevant rules and regulations established by TSA and your airline. Most importantly, you owe it to your pet and your fellow passengers to make sure that your dog is properly prepared for his or her upcoming flight. Below are nine best practices for traveling with your pet.

1) Schedule a visit to the veterinarian

Before you plan your trip, contact your veterinarian and schedule a health checkup for your pet. Be sure to notify the vet about your upcoming travel plans and ask that your pet is brought up to date on all pertinent vaccinations and cleared for travel. Make sure you request a copy of your pet’s medical records in case you are asked to present proof of vaccination by an airline agent, airport official, or TSA team member.

2) Familiarize yourself with security screening procedures

“TSA recognizes that for many pet owners, their animals are an extension of their family and they want to travel together. Becoming familiar with the procedures of how to clear security quickly and easily is the first step to a great trip.”
– Jeff Holmgren, TSA Federal Security Director, State of Washington

The path to a smooth trip begins with a strong working knowledge of your airport’s screening procedures. Fortunately, TSA is making it easier for people and their pets to learn screening procedures and clear security faster. Before you plan your trip, be sure to contact TSA by phone at 866-289-9673 or by email at TSA-ContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov to learn about the latest policies regarding pet travel.

3) Check the species and breed restrictions

While airlines have gradually expanded the breeds of animals permitted in the cargo area of most planes, there are certain dog and cat breeds that are prohibited from traveling as cargo. For example, Delta no longer permits “pit bull-type dogs” on its flights and United Airlines now prohibits over 20 dog breeds and 4 cat breeds from traveling as cargo. Even if you have recently used a particular airline to travel with your pet, it is best to research the airline’s policy in advance to ensure that your dog or cat will be cleared for travel.

4) Make sure your pet has the proper identification

“Having your pet implanted with a microchip can improve your chances of getting your pet back if it becomes lost. The microchip must be registered with your current contact information, including a cell phone number.”
– American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA)

Ensuring that your pet has the proper identification will help increase the likelihood that you will locate your pet if he or she becomes lost during any phase of your trip. The best way to achieve this goal is to visit your veterinarian to request that a microchip containing your contact information be implanted under the surface of your dog’s skin. You should also carry a copy of your pet’s medical records in case they are requested.

5) Research travel options for your pet

As a pet owner, you want to choose the travel option that provides the safest, most enjoyable travel experience for your dog. Selecting the best option for your pet means considering their temperament, size, age, and breed. While your options will likely be limited if you have a large dog, many smaller dogs can travel with you in the cabin or in the plane’s cargo area.

6) Review your airline’s carry on policy

“Small dogs, cats and household birds can travel in the cabin for a one-way fee, collected at check-in. They must be able to fit in a small, ventilated pet carrier that fits under the seat in front of you. Your pet counts as your personal item, part of your carry-on luggage.”
– Delta Airlines

Airlines differ in their policies for carrying pets on board a plane. Most airlines will permit small dogs, cats, and other small animals to travel in the main cabin as long as they are placed in a small ventilated carrier that can be stored under the seat in front of you. However, it is always best to double-check with your airline to confirm their pet carry-on policy. If you decide to carry your dog on the plane with you, remember that your pet’s carrier will count as a carry-on bag.

7) Prepare your dog for the flight

Preparing your dog for his or her upcoming flight means lining your dog’s carrier with absorbent pads and packing a bag that includes all of the supplies and food you may need for the trip. As you pack your dog’s supplies, remember to include the following:

  • Any medications or supplements
  • One or two favorite comfort toys
  • Enough food and water for 1-2 days
  • Wipes and poo bags

In addition to packing sufficient supplies, make sure you do not overfeed or overwater your pet before the flight. The experts with VitalCheck Home provide the following tips to prepare your dog for the flight:
“Plan food and water schedule before and during the flight. If you have a morning flight, skip breakfast and hold back water about 2 hours before it’s time to go. Keep in mind that flying on a plane is very dry – if your flight is short in duration (an hour or two) your dog will probably be alright with minimal water. If it’s a long flight though, they’ll likely need access to water a few times.”
– VitalCheck Home

8) Be prompt about picking up your dog after the flight

If your pet is scheduled to fly in the cargo area of your plane, you should make every effort to pick him or her up as soon as possible after your plane lands. Quickly take your dog to the nearest animal relief area and provide a serving of water and food. Then, if required, return your pet to their carrier until you have safely exited the airport.

9) Treat yourself and your dog to a relaxing ride home

You and your pet both deserve to relax and reconnect after a long flight. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is to call a chauffeured car service to pick you and dog up from the airport. Hiring a professional car service allows you to spend some quality one on one time with your dog while your driver deals with the stress of rush hour traffic. Best of all, you and your dog will enjoy a smooth relaxing ending to your trip!

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