Pets and air travel

The summer travel season is well under way, at a time when traveling with pets is becoming more acceptable and accessible nationwide. The past few years have seen tremendous growth in the services available to pets and owners, allowing them to fly, ride, visit, and stay at hotels in greater comfort with minimal inconvenience to other travelers. Here’s a few tips to make traveling with your pet easier:

Guides to pet-friendly hotels, airlines and destinations are available at bookstores and online, and it’s well worth purchasing one or more to help plan a trip with a pet.

Despite the improvements in amenities, the greatest issue among pet owners, according to TripAdvisor.com, is the stress their pets experience during travel. Many things can be done to reduce a pet’s anxiety, however.

  • Because pets should always travel, by auto or air, in an approved carrier, begin familiarizing your pet with the carrier several weeks before the trip.

  • Place favorite toys and comfort items in the carrier, along with a piece of clothing that has your scent on it.

  • If a pet suffers extreme anxiety even on short car trips, consult a veterinarian before a longer journey. Sometimes a homeopathic treatment like Bach Rescue Remedy can calm a pet. But occasionally, the vet will need to prescribe a stronger medication. A pet should not have to be completely tranquilized for a trip – if he or she is that anxious, it might be better to leave the pet with a sitter or a relative.

Additionally, follow guidebook recommendations on preparing to transport your pet by air. Find out the airline’s rules on transporting pets. Ask if the pet will be transported in a temperature-controlled section, or with the cargo. Place flight information directly on the carrier and make sure your pet is wearing identification tags.

Originally published June 2007.