Delayed flights, long lines, misplaced luggage...airplane travel can be stressful. Add a pet into the mix and things get even more complicated. Whether you’re bringing your new puppy home for the first time or taking your cat along on vacation, flying with a pet can be challenging—but it doesn’t have to be! With our top tips for airline travel with a pet, you’ll be pro jet-setters in no time!
Before Booking Your Flight
Doing research beforehand is essential for any travel, but it’s especially important if you’ll be traveling with a pet. The journey will be much easier if you know what to expect! Airports and airlines usually have specific regulations about pets. Make sure you’re aware of any rules about pet weight and size, carrier weight and size, and any other potential restrictions.
Check with your vet
Before traveling, make sure your pet is in good health for the big adventure. Give your vet a call to ensure your pet is up to date on vaccinations and does not have any health issues that might preclude travel.
If you have a brachycephalic pet (such as a Pekingese, bulldog, or Persian cat) it might be best to skip air travel altogether—travel in a cargo hold can be unsafe for these animals. It’s always a good idea to chat with your veterinarian first to determine the best options for your family.
Select a flight carefully
Scope out your options to find an airline that is pet-friendly and reliable. Most airlines explain their pet policies on their website, but you can also give them a call to confirm.
Once you’ve selected an airline, take care to pick the right flight, too. If possible, try to get a direct flight or keep connections and layovers to a minimum. This will be less stressful for you and your pet, plus it reduces the chance that your pet could get lost while traveling in cargo.
1+ Month Before Your Flight
Get the right carrier for your pet
Having the right travel carrier for your pet can make all of the difference. There are a few considerations to keep in mind when selecting one. First, the size: you’ll need a carrier that your pet can stand up and turn around easily in so they’re comfortable during the flight. Another feature to look for is a waste management system. During a long travel day, potty breaks might not always be an option. Our Passenger Travel Carrier has a built-in pee pad system, so accidents on the go are easily dealt with.
(Pet parent pro tip: a travel carrier with pockets is a great way to store your pet’s travel gear!)
Practice, practice, practice!
Once you have a travel carrier, start teaching your pet the ropes. The sooner they can start getting comfortable in their carrier, the better! Help them learn how to get in and out, practice walking around with them inside the carrier, and encourage them to spend time inside. This will help your pet learn that the carrier is a safe, comfortable place to be and it will make travel less stressful for you both.
1+ Week Before Your Flight
Get a wellness check-up
Some airlines will require your pet to receive a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection from the vet. Schedule a vet visit within 10 days of your flight so that you can obtain this certificate. Some countries require more in-depth veterinary certificates, so be sure to check the requirements of your destination if you’re traveling internationally.
Take a moment to collect all of the paperwork you and your pet will need for the trip. You’ll likely need to print an updated record of your pet’s vaccines, the Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, and any other relevant medical records. It’s helpful to put all of your pet’s travel paperwork into a folder that is easily accessible during check-in.
Call the airline
It’s also good practice to call the airline to make sure that there will still be room on the plane for your pet and to double-check if there are any new rules to be aware of. The extra call now can save you a huge headache on the day of your flight!
Day of Flight
Before you head to the airport, make sure you’ve packed everything your pet will need for the journey. Here’s a sample packing list:
- Travel carrier
- Pee pads & poop bags
- Leash/collar/ID Tags
- Food & treats
- Calming aids like your pet’s favorite toy
- Medications/health essentials
- All necessary documents
If your pet has any medical concerns or other needs, be sure to pack enough medicine and health essentials to last through the duration of your trip and some extras in case of emergencies.
Before getting your pet situated in their carrier, make sure they’ve gone both #1 and #2. Ideally, it’s helpful to stop giving them food and water a few hours before take-off so there are no accidents. However, bring some water with you so that you can let your pet drink towards the end of the flight and make sure they aren't dehydrated.
Take a breather
Once you’ve arrived at your destination, take your pet out of their carrier and give them some time to rest. Traveling can be very stressful. So, it’s important to give your pet time to unwind and recuperate from the journey before you launch into your fun itinerary.
We hope these tips make your airport experience free of turbulence. Bon voyage, Pet Parents!
The Diggs Team
We believe our dogs deserve safer, better designed pet products.
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