Bella wants you to be safe while you travel!
Airline Pet Travel in CargoPet Travel: How to Help Keep Your Pet Safe When Traveling Air Cargo People need to travel with a pet for many reasons: leisure, business, and relocation to name a few. Although all of us would like to be able to fly with their pet in the cabin of an airplane, this is not possible if your pet is over 11 inches tall or 15 pounds in weight. The only option left is for your pet to travel in the cargo hold. Despite all the fears about pet cargo travel, millions of pets are shipped every year with relatively few incidents. Granted, any incident is serious when it comes to our pets, but many are avoidable. There are things you can do to maximize your pet’s safety when traveling air cargo.
Make sure your pet is healthy: A trip to the veterinarian prior to pet air travel is a very good idea. Unhealthy or very skiddish pets should not be subjected to the stress of travel. If you have to travel, leave them at home and have a pet sitter or relative care for them.
Choose your route carefully: If possible, select an airline that offers a non-stop route to your destination. It is always more stressful for a pet to be transferred to another plane. Also remember that airlines do not interline pets. If you are switching to another airline during stopovers, you will have to pick up and recheck your pet. This can be helpful during a long trip, but be sure and give yourself plenty of time between flights to walk and hydrate your pet. Additionally, if you are on an international flight and change airlines, you must pass customs and thus meet all appropriate requirements for entry to that country. Purchase a good pet crate: IATA regulations require a sturdy pet crate with adequate ventilation, waterproof bottom, spring locked door, disabled wheels, and no handles (except for smaller crates).
Size the crate generously: The airline rules for pet air travel require that your pet be able to stand up erect and turn around in the carrier. Do not compromise on your pet’s comfort. Give them room to stretch.
Use metal hardware! More and more airlines are requiring metal hardware instead of plastic fasteners to secure both halves of the crate. We strongly suggest that you take that extra step whether your airline requires it or not.
Cable tie the door: Adding cable ties to the door will add an extra level of protection for your pet. Although spring locks are hard to get open, it has happened, and the results can be serious.
Identification must be present and visible: Live Animal and Directional Stickers are mandatory. In addition, you should attach the following information to your crate in a plastic sleeve: name of pet, your name and cell phone number, any medical considerations, temperament issues (if any), and a picture of your pet. You can also include your pet’s veterinary information.
Adequate Hydration: Your pet should be offered hydration prior to going to the airport. Your pet’s crate bowl [link to crate crock] should be filled and frozen prior to attaching it to the crate.
No tranquilizing: Tranquilizing a pet prior to pet cargo travel is very dangerous. Many airlines will not accept a pet who has been tranquilized. It is important that a pet's breathing is not affected during flight and this is a common side effect in tranquilizers. Better to use an all natural pet calmer.
Know your airline's pet policy: Print a copy of the policy and bring it with you should you have any problems at the check in desk or cargo area.
Your pet will not be stacked on top of suitcases. Airlines have special places for pets so that they will be protected from cargo and luggage. It is temperature controlled and pressurized just like the cabin.
Be proactive! If you are traveling with your pet, the day of travel, tell the ticket agent that you would like to get confirmation that your pet has been loaded in the plane if you cannot see the baggage handlers load the plane prior to boarding yourself. Inform the captain (or have the crew inform the captain) that there is a live animal in the hold and to be sure to monitor the temperature and pressure at all times.
Relax and enjoy your flight: Remember that airline employees who handle your pet have been trained to do so. Many of the airlines have pet programs to attract your business. They are required to report all pet travel incidents in cargo to the Department of Transportation. It is to their best interest to treat your pet with care and safety in mind.
Many of the stories that we hear about incidents during pet air travel could have been prevented had the pet owner had taken the necessary precautions for their pet's safety. Give your pet the best chance to arrive safely by taking these steps in advance of traveling in the cargo hold.
More information on pet cargo travel in our blog.
About Dr. Shawn
Dr. Messonnier, a 1987 graduate of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, opened Paws & Claws Animal Hospital in 1991. His special interests include exotic pets, dermatology, cancer, and internal medicine. Dr. Messonnier is a well-known speaker and author. In addition to serving clients, he has written for numerous veterinary and pet publications including Animal Wellness, Body + Soul, Veterinary Forum, Dog Fancy, Cat Fancy, Dog World, Fido Friendly, Whole Dog Journal, Whole Cat Journal, Whole Living, Total Health and Wellness. He is the author of several books, including The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, The Allergy Solution for Dogs, The Arthritis Solution for Dogs & Cats, The Natural Vet's Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs, 8 Weeks to a Healthy Dog and Unexpected Miracles: Hope and Holistic Healing for Pets. Dr. Shawn has served as a consultant, done research for, or lectured for many highly respected companies in the pet care industry, including Pet Togethers, Ark Naturals, N-Bones, Nature’s Variety, Heel, Nutramax, and RX Vitamins for Pets. Dr. Shawn is a member of several health care organizations, including the Oncology (Cancer) Association of Naturopathic Physicians, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, and Texas Veterinary Medical Association. He is also the host of the weekly award-winning radio show, "Dr. Shawn, The Natural Vet", on Martha Stewart Radio SiriusXM channel 110 on Tuesdays from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM (EST) with a repeat broadcast at 11 PM (EST) and Wednesdays at 6 AM (EST).
Fundraising for Pet Charitiesshawnvet@sbcglobal.net and I will follow-up with a phone call to tell you more about our company and how we might work together to raise funds for your group.
Shawn Messonnier DVM
In the interim, check out our Vim & Vigor supplement at www.petcentrx.com
Questions for Dr. Shawn -
Traveling with Your Pet
"Dear Dr. Shawn:
"We plan on traveling with our dog later this summer. However, being in the car really seems to freak him out. Even short trips to the veterinarian’s office or groomer get him upset. We’ve tried a medication called acepromazine prescribed by his doctor in the past, but all this does is make him wobbly and sedated. Do you have any recommendations?"
"Your problem is not uncommon. A number of pets really seem to get upset when they’re in the car. I think there are a few explanations for this. First, often the only time a pet gets to ride in the car is when he’s going to the veterinarian’s office, which is not always a pleasant experience. Pets easily remember and associate the unpleasant experience at the doctor’s office with the car. Second, many pets are not trained when they are young to ride in the car. Training puppies and kittens to simply ride in the car and not necessarily go to the doctor’s office is an important part of training. Acepromazine, the drug you have used, is a popular sedative. Unfortunately, it does not relieve anxiety. Drugs like diazepam, oxazepam, amitryptilline, and buspirone may help reduce anxiety in pets that don’t like to travel. There are several natural remedies that may also work. The popular flower essence called Rescue Remedy is easily administered (orally by drops or as an ointment applied to the skin) and helps many pets with mild anxiety. For pets that don’t respond to Rescue Remedy, I have had some success with herbs. A product I have used is called Nutricalm by RX Vitamins for Pets. It contains tryptophan, valerian, kava, and catnip. Tryptophan is an amino acid which can increase serotonin levels; decreased serotonin levels are often seen in people and pets with anxiety, aggression, various behavioral problems, sleep disturbances, and obsessive-compulsive traits. Valerian is a popular herb used to reduce restlessness. The chemicals in valerian bind to the same cell receptors in the brain as those used by various drugs, including diazepam. Kava is a well known herb often prescribed for depression and anxiety. The kavalactone chemicals in the herb produce muscle relaxation and have an anti-anxiety effect. Finally, catnip also has sedating and calming effects. In addition to trying drug or natural therapies for your pet, I would strongly suggest working with a veterinarian who specializes in animal behavior. The goal is to have your dog grow to accept and hopefully like riding in the car, which would prevent the need for any type of therapy in the future. Good luck!"
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Paws & Claws Animal Hospital
2145 W Park Blvd, Plano, TX