Why Flying Might Not Be the Best Option for Your Pet

Woof Woof! Meow No! Why Flying Might Not Be the Best Option for Your Pet

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Why Flying Might Not Be the Best Option for Your Pet

Traveling with your furry friend can be exciting, but when it comes to airplanes, it might be best to leave them at home (with a trusted pet sitter, of course!). While some pets handle air travel just fine, there are many risks and considerations that might make flying a stressful and even dangerous experience for your beloved companion.

This blog will explore the reasons why flying with your pet might not be the best option, while also providing a guide for those who decide to go forward with it.

The Risks of Air Travel for Pets

The Humane Society warns that air travel can be risky for pets, especially those with short, flat faces (brachycephalic breeds) like pugs, bulldogs, and Persian cats. Their limited airways make them more susceptible to oxygen deprivation and heatstroke in the pressurized cabins of airplanes.

Here are some other potential dangers to consider:

  • Temperature extremes: Cargo holds can become very hot or cold, posing a health risk to your pet.
  • Rough handling: Unfortunately, mishandling of pet carriers can occur during loading and unloading.
  • Noise and vibration: The loud noises and vibrations of airplanes can be frightening for animals.
  • Separation anxiety: Being separated from you, their source of comfort, can cause your pet significant stress.
  • Exposure to illness: Air travel exposes your pet to other animals who might be carrying diseases.

Alternatives to Flying with Your Pet

There are many alternatives to consider if air travel isn’t the best option for your pet.

  • Road trip: If you’re traveling by car, plan frequent breaks for your pet to eliminate, stretch their legs, and stay hydrated.
  • Pet sitter/boarding: Consider leaving your pet with a trusted friend, family member, or professional pet sitter in their familiar environment.
  • Train travel: Some train companies allow pets on board, with proper documentation and restrictions. This can be a less stressful option for some animals.

Flying with Your Pet: A Guide (if absolutely necessary)

If, after careful consideration, you decide to fly with your pet, here’s a guide to help ensure a safe and smooth journey:

  • Contact the Airline Early: Airlines have different policies and restrictions on pet travel. Contact them well in advance to inquire about fees, size limitations, and required documents (vaccination records, health certificates, etc.).
  • Choose the Right Carrier: Select a sturdy, well-ventilated carrier that meets the airline’s size requirements and allows your pet to stand up and turn around comfortably. Line it with absorbent material and include a familiar toy or blanket for comfort.
  • Prepare Your Pet: Get your pet used to the carrier beforehand by leaving it out with the door open and placing treats inside. Consult your veterinarian about possible calming aids for anxious pets.
  • Label the Carrier Clearly: Clearly label your pet’s carrier with your name, contact information, and “Live Animal” stickers on all sides.
  • Arrive Early at the Airport: Allow extra time for check-in and security screening procedures for your pet.
  • Hydrate Your Pet: Offer your pet water before the flight and avoid feeding them too close to departure to prevent nausea.

Additional Considerations

  • Brachycephalic Breeds: As mentioned earlier, brachycephalic breeds are at higher risk. Consider alternative travel arrangements for these pets.
  • Short Flights vs. Long Hauls: Generally, shorter flights pose less risk.
  • Your Pet’s Age and Health: Very young, old, or pets with health conditions should not fly unless absolutely necessary, with veterinarian approval.

The Bottom Line: Prioritize Your Pet’s Well-Being

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to fly with your pet depends on individual circumstances. By weighing the risks and considering alternatives, you can make the best choice for your furry friend’s health and well-being. If flying is unavoidable, careful planning and preparation can significantly reduce the stress and potential dangers for your pet.

Remember, a happy and healthy pet is a travel companion worth waiting for!

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