Traveling with your pet can be a stressful experience for them, but sometimes it’s the only option. In addition to the stress that travel can put on your pet, flying with your pet has added expenses, complications, and restrictions. Anasazi Animal Clinic in Gilbert, Arizona, knows how precious your pet is to you, and that’s one reason we’d like to offer some considerations and tips to think about before you plan to go airborne with your critter.

Is it Necessary to Bring Your Pet Along?

If you’re moving across the country or you’re going to be out of town for an extended period of time and cannot afford to use a boarding service, traveling with your pet may be your only choice. But since flying is stressful, traveling by car or leaving your pet at home are options worth considering.

You may have heard some frightening stories and myths about flying with pets and you aren’t sure whether to believe them. Here is one fact; while thousands of animals are transported by plane a year, in 2017 there were 24 deaths of animals, 15 injuries, and one loss reported by the Department of Transportation. This reality is worth thinking about when you’re weighing your options for flying, driving, or leaving your pet at home.

In addition, there have been a few scientific studies done on the physiological and behavioral responses of dogs during a flight. One study concludes Our results suggest that both road and air transport are stressful for dogs, at least for animals who are not used to travel.” This study also noted that sedation of the dog did not seem to play a role in heartbeat or stress response. Interesting!

Prepare Your Pet for the Flight

Once you have determined that it’s absolutely necessary to fly with your pet, it’s time to prepare them for the journey ahead. Whether you’re checking your pet into the temperature-regulated cargo hold underneath the plane or bringing them into the cabin with you, there are several ways to help your pet adapt to the in-flight journey.

In Advance

  • Acclimate your cat or dog to their crate or carrying case.
  • The day of travel will include a lot of strange noises and movements for your pet.  Simulating some of these experiences in advance can be helpful in preparing them.
  • Make sure that you have checked with the airline about any necessary immunizations.
  • Schedule an appointment with your local vet shortly before you fly to ensure they are at optimal health and can endure a strenuous flight.

Day of Travel

  • If you have a dog, give them a long, active walk to expend their stored-up energy.
  • Monitor your dog’s food and water intake. Doing so will regulate the need for your pet to go potty while traveling.
  • Take your pet to relieve itself one last time right before the flight. Depending on whether it’s flying with you in the cabin or being checked to cargo might dictate when this bathroom break can happen.

Choose the Right Airline

Airlines have different rules, expenses, and even rewards programs for flying with your pet, so it’s wise to do your research before picking the right airline for you and your fluffy, feathery or scaly friend. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Out of the deaths of animals listed above, 18 incidents occurred on United Airlines.
  • Certain airlines will not allow your pet to travel with you in the cabin and others will not allow your pet to travel in cargo.
  • Airlines tend to have limits on how many animals they will carry on any particular flight.
  • Know if the airline has specific rules for which type of carrier to use.
  • Some airlines will allow you to check your pet as extra baggage and others will make you purchase a separate ticket.

One Final Thought

It’s common to choose to sedate your pet when flying, however, oversedation has been linked to some animal in-flight deaths. If you’re considering sedation, contact us at Anasazi Animal Clinic in Gilbert to see if it’s the best option for your pet. Your pet’s health and wellness is our primary concern!

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst (4/07/2018)