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How to Navigate Air Travel with your Pet

37 percent of pet owners travel with their pets every year. And we get it: bringing your treasured pet along can turn a good vacation or trip home into a great one. But to a pet owner who isn’t prepared, air travel can be intimidating — and even dangerous for your furry friend. Here are some practical tips for air travelers looking to bring their beloved pet on their next big adventure. 

Preparation

So, you’ve made the decision to bring your pet along for the ride — now what? 

You need your driver’s license to get through airport security — and your pet needs their identification, too! Ensure your pet wears an ID tag and collar at all times. Better yet, microchip your pet before you go — and register the chip with foundanimals.org. (It’s free!)

Make sure you have copies of your pet’s written documentation in case airplane staff requests to see it. Nothing puts a damper on your vacation like your furry friend getting kicked off the plane — so, make sure you’re familiar with the rules of the particular airline you’ll be flying before boarding. 

Speaking of rules, you’ll also want to be prepared to go through airport security with your pet. Click here to check out the TSA’s regulations regarding the security screening of pets.

What to Pack

Even the best-trained pet may have an accident when overwhelmed! Don’t forget to bring along everything you need to clean up messes. We’re talking wet wipes, poop bags, puppy pads and anything else your pet needs to look and feel fresh.

Most in-flight snack carts aren’t designed with pets in mind, so you’ll need to pack your own food and bowls. You should also bring along treats to encourage good behavior, including a special snack for your pet to enjoy in-flight. Giving your pet their favorite reward on-board may ease their nerves before takeoff — and keep them quiet while munching away.

Just in case your pet becomes distressed in-flight, keep a sedative medication on hand to soothe your little buddy’s nerves. Visit your vet to get a prescription well before your trip to avoid any last-minute mishaps or embarrassing emergencies. 

The Airport

Scout out relief areas prior to boarding. Since there’s no in-flight bathroom for animals, you’ll want to make sure your pet goes before takeoff to minimize the potential for any accidents. 

If your pet can tolerate a carrier (and is small enough to fit in one), carrying them may be easier than walking them through airport crowds. You may also want to check your luggage for one less thing to carry while searching for your gate. 

However, if you do decide to walk your pet, make sure your pet is leashed and under your control at all times. Bad behavior reflects on not only you, but also on other pet owners at their airport!

The Plane

We’re animal lovers — but not everybody is a fan! Your seat-mates may be allergic to your pet, so check with them before sitting down. If there’s a conflict, the flight attendants will be happy to find you another seat.

To avoid squirming, keep your pet as close to you as possible — and practice helpful commands like “lay down” and “stay” before you go. If your pet is whining or clearly uncomfortable, you may want to administer the sedative prescribed to them by your vet, both for your sake and the sake of others around you.

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With these tips, your pet’s flight will hopefully be just as smooth as yours! For more tips on pet safety, visit our Resource Center at foundanimals.org. 

 

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