Traveling long distances, especially in on a plane can be incredibly stressful on a dog – and even fatal. If you are simply vacationing, you should find a trusted friend or family member to care for your dog in your absence. Because of the danger of fatality (which has been in the news quite a bit recently), we highly recommend you do not ship a dog unnecessarily … however, we also understand that sometimes there is no way around doing so (such as a move). If you must fly with a pet, here are some things you need to know…
Airline travel will require a crate. Make sure it is large enough for your dog to stand, turn, and lie down in comfortably. Make sure the crate is labeled with your contact information (your name, phone number and address). Due to layovers, unexpected delays or flight reschedules, the airline MUST be able to contact you. Additionally, most airlines will not allow toys, blankets and other comfort items in the crate. You will be allowed to pack food and absorbent material, such as shredded paper. Water will be provided by the attendant.
Make sure all collar tags are up to date with your contact information.
Call the airline ahead of time and find out their procedures for transporting animals. Some airlines will not transport animals in extreme temperatures. Unsafe temperatures can cause hypothermia, brain damage, and even death. Even if the airline allows it, consider the current temps, and use your own common sense.
All airlines will require health certifications – usually within 10 days of the flight – as well as proof of last date of vaccinations. Make sure you have printed receipts from your vet.
NOT sedate your dog for a flight. Sedation lowers a mammal’s ability to regulate body temperature. For more information, please see: www.avma.org. Unfortunately, many well-meaning owners have lost their pets due to sedation.
If you are crossing country lines, RESEARCH vaccination and quarantine laws. Some countries will require your dog is held by them for 30 days or more, some may require vaccinations that are not standard in the United States, some may even have the same vaccination laws but require written proof from your vet clinic. Find out more: http://www.state.gov/m/fsi/tc/c10442.htm
Even some states have different vaccination laws. For example, a quarantine WILL be required for all pets entering Hawaii (due to their current total lack of rabies). This quarantine can range from 5 days to 120 days. RESEARCH!
Check on the local water. As with humans, the water in some countries could cause your dog to become very ill. Bring along your own jugs of water, or purchase purified water by the jug or bottle when you reach your destination.
Don’t forget to bring any medication that your dog will need, and make sure the airline attendants are aware of your dog’s specific needs.
If you are not immediately moving into a new home and have to stay at a hotel in the interim, call ahead to find local doggy day care. After a flight and the stress of a new environment, it’s best that your dog not be left alone right away.
If you are moving permanently, call ahead and find a reputable veterinarian in the area that can continue your dog’s regular schedule of checkups and vaccinations.
We can not stress enough: research, research, research.