Each year over 2 million pets fly on commercial flights and this number is growing.
Although some pet owners feel their pets are safe flying in the cabin under their seat, others are wary of their pets flying cargo.
Is flying cargo safe for your pet? Read on for the scoop on flying animals safely.
Know the Risks of Cargo Travel for Your Pet
Before you decide to fly your pet cargo, it’s important to know the right risks. Most veterinarians and experts recommend you don’t take brachycephalic animals (those with the pushed in faces) such as pugs, Persian cats, and others in the cargo area.
Brachycephalic animals have shorter nasal passages and this makes them more vulnerable to heat stroke and oxygen deprivation.
If your dog is not small enough to fly in the cabin with you and must fly cargo, you should re-consider an alternative option first. Consider driving instead if this is an option.
Look into finding a pet sitter or leave your pet with a family member so you don’t have to have your pet fly cargo.
If you do decide to take your dog on a plane with you, it’s important to know what the risks are.
Pets that fly cargo run the risk of being injured, lost, and even killed. Most deaths occur due to changes in temperature, ventilation issues, and improper handling.
Take the Right Precautions
It’s understandable that some pet owners might have reservations about having their pets travel in the cargo compartment. However, millions of pets travel cargo without a scratch.
It might seem like the odds might be against your pet, but there are things you can do to ensure their safety.
If you take some precautions, you will reduce the chances of anything happening to your pet.
Pay a Visit to the Veterinarian
Before you take your dog on a plane, you should visit your veterinarian. Having a clean bill of health from your veterinarian will give you confidence your pet is ready to travel.
Make sure you let your vet know you plan on taking your dog on a plane.
Carefully Choose a Route
You want to make sure you minimize the stress of the trip as much as possible. Make sure you only book direct flights.
Flights will layovers will mean more travel time and more stress for your dog. Not too mention, with a layover you run the risk of your dog getting lost in transit.
Book as Early as Possible
Many airlines limit how many pets they can take on commercial flights. In order to avoid all pet seats being sold out, make sure you book as early as possible.
It might also be a good idea to check in advance if there is a spot for your dog on the flight before you book your ticket.
Don’t Travel During the Summer Months
Although most cargo cabins are temperature controlled and pressurized, there can be some malfunctions.
In order to protect your pet during a flight, avoid flying during the winter and summer months. If the temperatures get above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, it might not be safe to do so.
The danger is not so much the flight as it is transporting, loading, and taxiing.
Get the Appropriate Crate
Before traveling, most airlines require you to meet certain crate specifications. The crate must have a waterproof bottom, sturdy lock, proper ventilation, and no handles.
The crate also needs to be comfortable enough for your pet to move around and stretch.
You will want to add an extra level of protection to the crate by adding cable ties to secure the crate. Although the lock of the crate should be secured enough, if your pet were to get out, there might be a risk of injury.
Show the Right Documentation
To prevent your dog from going to the wrong location, make sure you identify the crate.
You should attach to the crate the following documents such as your name, contact information, medical considerations, behavior issues, and even a picture of your pet.
Make sure you attach it well to the outside of the crate so it doesn’t fall off during transit.
Should You Tranquilize Your Pet?
There’s a debate on whether or not you should tranquilize your pet before the flight. The truth is most airlines won’t take a pet if it has been tranquilized due to the added dangers.
Some tranquilizers might compromise your pet’s breathing, which can be a problem during takeoff and landing. If your pet is flying cargo where you can’t check on him, this could be fatal.
If you have an anxious dog, your vet might recommend you don’t take him on a plane. However, ask your vet if there is a natural way to calm your pet down before the flight.
Familiarize Yourself With the Airline Policy
Before you book a flight, make sure you familiarize yourself with the pet policy. The last thing you want is to show up at the airport and realize you’re missing a document or the crate doesn’t meet the requirements.
As a precaution, you should print and bring a copy of the pet policy with you in case you have any problems checking in. Allow plenty of time to get to the airport so you don’t feel rushed.
Let the Crew Know
The last thing you want to do is let the crew know your pet is traveling cargo. Once you board the plane and settle down, make sure you ask them for confirmation your pet is on board.
You should also ask that they make sure the cargo cabin is pressurized and temperature controlled to ensure your pet is safe.
Flying Animals Safely: The Bottom Line
Flying animals safely is possible if you take a few precautions. Ensure you always visit your vet, get a safe crate, learn the airline policy, and book direct flights.
Don’t forget to inform the crew your best friend is aboard the flight.
Are you moving across the country? Check out this article for 8 tips for moving with your pets.