Flying with pets on an airplane is one of the most stressful airplane experiences you can prepare for; for both you and your pet. Your pet will be out of their element, they won’t know what’s going on, and they will be stuffed inside a carrier through it all. Yet, for whatever reason – whether you’re moving or simply going on vacation – they’re right there with you.
The skinny of it is, no matter how much you prepare, your pet is going to have an anxiety-filled airplane ride. However, there are some things you can do to ease the stress of flying with pets.
Here are some tips to help you safely fly with your pet:
Know the policies
Before you book, check with a few airlines to see what their policies are regarding flying with pets.
Questions to ask include:
- Does your airline allow pets in the cabin?
- What are the carrier restrictions for both in the cabin and in the cargo hold (material, size, weight)?
- How many pets are allowed in the cabin during a flight?
Prepare for fees
It differs from airline to airline, but if you decide to fly with your pet, you will be charged a fee per carrier both on board and in checked cargo. For checked baggage, prices go from about $50 for domestic Canadian flights, to $100 to the USA, to roughly $250 for international flights. One-way.
Pick a good carrier
Research the airlines requirements, and pick a carrier that will simultaneously meet them as well as be extremely comfortable for your pet. If you are in the market for a new carrier, bring it home at least a month ahead of departure and get your pet used to it; make your animal feel at home in the carrier.
For the flight, line the carrier with a pee pad in case your pet has an accident, as well as with an article of clothing that smells like you and thus will make your pet more comfortable. Additionally, put their favorite toy in the carrier with them, to give them even more a sense of familiarity.
If you are flying internationally, research requirements your pet will need to meet before it can enter the country. These include:
- An import permit
- A microchip
- Any necessary vaccines
- A tick / tapeworm treatment
- A blood test
Get a clean bill of health from your vet
Visit your veterinarian about 7-10 days before your flight to get your animal a clean bill of health. The airline will require you to provide a health certificate upon check-in.
Be early, but not too early
You are going to want to arrive at the airport with a little extra time in case there are any delays because of your furry friend, but you don’t want to arrive so early that your pet will become stir-crazy earlier than what you bargained for.
Choose a direct flight
Because flying is so stressful for animals, try and choose a direct flight to your destination. Less ups and downs mean more stability for your pet, and no plane changes means less time spent caged in a carrier while you wander around airports.
Don’t feed them right before the flight
Being on an airplane will absolutely stress out your pet, and when pets are stressed on a full stomach, only one thing can happen; they will hurl. It’s recommended that you stop feeding your pet about 5-6 hours before take-off, and that you limit their water about an hour before the flight.
To avoid too many in-flight accidents, give your animal water slowly. This can be through a water drip you’ve installed in the carrier, or though ice given to you by the flight attendants.
Put your contact information with your pet
If for any reason you and your pet get separated, you’re going to want all your contact information both on the carrier, as well as on your pets collar. Additionally, carry a photo of your pet with you and write down any identifying marks they have in case you need to prove your ownership.