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Tips for Airplane Travel with Pets

Going somewhere and want to bring your pet along for the adventure, but don’t want to drive? Pets can travel by airplane - but it’s not for everyone. In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know about traveling by air with pets.

Silhouette of Airplane

This blog is intended to provide tips and considerations for traveling with personal companion animals. There may be different requirements or accommodations made for service animals - always consult with the airline directly for any information related to your pet’s travel, service animal or otherwise!

A few quick things to note:

  • Pets younger than 8 weeks of age are not usually permitted to fly, regardless of vaccine status.

  • Pets who are currently ill, unvaccinated/unable to be vaccinated, or suffer from other medical conditions may not be eligible to receive a health certificate to travel, therefore, unable to fly.

  • You should always weigh the risks and benefits of air travel with a pet, especially with senior pets, pets with severe anxiety, or other health issues. While it might seem fun to bring your pet along, their wellbeing should be the most important consideration.

Check with your airline before booking anything. Every airline has different rules and requirements for traveling with pets, so conduct your due diligence and make sure you are able to meet the airline’s expectations when you arrive at the airport with your pet, regardless of whether your pet is flying with you in the cabin or underneath. Many airlines require you to confirm that your pet is coming with you the day before the flight, so be sure to specify this upon your e-check in.

Consider the trip from your pet’s point of view. You know your pet better than anyone! If you think that the airplane ride will be stressful or difficult for them (keep in mind where they will be riding, how long they will be in a carrier, their surroundings if they are traveling underneath, etc.) then it is best to arrange to board your pet or have a sitter come and stay. It’s important to note that most airlines do not allow pets riding in the cabin to come out of their carriers during the flight, even if they are kept in your lap.

Obtain a health certificate. In most cases, a USDA health certificate is required to travel with your pet. This health certificate must be issued by a veterinarian, and a physical exam must be performed at the time the health certificate is issued (even if your pet was recently examined.) Typically, a health certificate is considered valid by most airlines for 10 days for domestic travel, but confirm this with your airline (or airlines, if your departing and returning airlines are different). This is important to keep in mind, especially if your trip is longer than 10 days, as your pet may require an additional exam and health certificate at the location you are visiting to return home.

Keep your records handy. Some states or countries may require additional vaccinations outside of the core vaccines, so be sure to check with the airline to see if any of these are required. Some vaccines may require a series of boosters over several weeks or months before your pet is considered “current” on their shots, so research this information early on to ensure you have time to get your pet caught up. Bring a record of your pet’s vaccine history with you on vacation.

Use anxiety medications as needed. If your pet has been given anxiety medications in the past, use them! Give medications as instructed prior to and during travel to keep your pet calm and stress-free. If your pet has never traveled on a plane before and you aren’t quite sure how they’ll react, talk to your veterinarian about getting some (you can do this at the time of your pet’s health certificate) to keep on hand. Be sure to try the medications at home prior to the flight so you can see how your pet responds to the medications. Contact your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s medication/dosage.

Don’t forget your pet’s supplies. Make sure to bring all necessary medications, food, and treats on your trip. Additionally, take some time to ensure that your pet’s microchip information is up to date and that their collar has current contact information. Provide a clear label with contact information on their travel carrier, too!

Conduct your research before traveling internationally. If you are traveling outside of the United States with a pet, please check with your airline for any additional requirements, as well as check with the consulate of the country you are visiting to ensure you don’t overlook any other special requirements (such as additional vaccines, certificates, or testing) that may affect your travels.

For longer trips, consider a pet transportation company! Not all pets do well in the cargo hold. It can be loud, scary, and downright stressful for some pets, especially over long rides. If you are traveling a long distance or relocating to another country, or have a pet with special needs (medications, anxiety, etc.) that might fare better with a little more TLC, a pet courier service might be the way to go. These companies can provide a more safe and comfortable travel experience for pets.

For further questions or concerns regarding your pet and travel, please contact your us at 972-347-6100 for further guidance!

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