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Flying With Your Pet

June 8, 2018 | By Daniel Dewitt

If you’re a pet owner, then you may have faced this challenge at some point: you have to travel out of state, but you don’t want to leave your pet home alone. The problem is, trying to fly with them is always a series of increasingly painful headaches.

Still, unless you want to leave your little guy at home with a sitter or in a kennel, you don’t have many other choices. But if you’re willing to face the challenges that go along with it, flying with your pet can be made a lot easier with a little bit of planning and preparation.

Do the Research Before You Buy the Ticket

One of the biggest mistakes people make when flying with their pets is that they assume all airlines have the same policies, and all of them will accommodate their pet in the same way. The truth is that while there are some FAA regulations that all airlines must abide by, how an airline accommodates passengers traveling with a pet can vary dramatically.

Because of this, it is essential to thoroughly research pet policies before buying your ticket. For example, what is your specific airline’s requirements regarding the size does your animal’s crate? How heavy can your pet be to ride in the cabin with you? How much will the fee be? Will you have to take out an installment loan to afford it?

If you have a pet that’s not a common breed of cat or dog, then this step is non-negotiable: some airlines simply will not take pets that are not cats or dogs, and even don’t allow certain breeds known for being troublesome or prone to health emergencies.

Prepare Your Pet

No matter how you go about it, flying is going to be a stressful experience for your pet. Not only will they be surrounded by strangers, but animals are more sensitive to changes in air pressure than we are, and often develop anxiety being in enclosed spaces. If you plan to transport your pet by crate, be aware that this is likely to induce even more stress because they’ll be separated from you, and a stressed pet is one that’s likely to snap at strangers, bark, urinate, or even have a panic attack.

In order to minimize the stress and inflict less trauma on your pet, you should start working with them around a month before your travel date to acclimate them as much as possible to the experience. Most of us don’t have a private jet to take our pets on practice runs, but what you can do is get your pet used to spending long periods in a crate or carrier.

Place treats or their usual food in their crate to lure them in, and then just spend time with them while they’re in it. Your goal is to have them associate the crate or bag with happy experiences, and feel as though it’s a safe space for them. Spending time in the space like this will mean that even when it’s transported to a new location, they’ll still have a measure of stability in their surroundings.