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What Are the Best Tips for a Pet on a Plane?

By Dee Jones
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Taking a pet on a plane can be a challenge, but there are things a pet owner can do to make the trip run more smoothly. The first thing a pet owner must do is determine whether taking the cat or dog on an airplane is even a good idea. Next, the owner should find out what the pet travel policies are at both the point of departure and the destination. Finally, the pet owner should take steps to make sure the dog or cat will be calm and comfortable during the trip.

The first thing to consider before taking a pet on a plane is whether the dog or cat should be going on the trip at all. Not every pet is cut out for air travel and, while pet owners might miss the pets during long trips, it might be best for all concerned to leave the family dog or cat at home. One way to determine whether taking a dog or cat on a plane is a good idea is to try a test run. If possible, the pet should be taken on a short one- or two-hour test flight to see how well the animal handles it. If an owner decides taking the pet on a plane isn’t a good idea, the next step is finding a kennel to house the pet for the duration of the trip.

Once a dog or cat owner has determined that no serious problems will result from taking a pet on a plane, preparations for the flight can begin. It is important to make sure that all of the pet’s vaccinations are up to date. The owners will also need to take a copy of the pet’s vaccination records with them on the trip. A few months before the trip is scheduled, find out what the animal transport policies are, both at the point of departure and at the destination. Pet travel policies and guidelines can differ widely from one place to another, and finding out the policies beforehand can prevent many unnecessary problems and complications.

When taking a pet on a plane, it is important to make sure the cat or dog will be comfortable and calm during the trip. Buy a pet carrier that has been approved for airplane travel, and allows the pet to move around freely. Make sure the pet is well hydrated before the trip begins, especially if the flight will be a long one. Pets should not be given sedatives before a flight to keep them calm, because this can be bad for the health of the cat or dog. Instead, put familiar items, like favorite toys or the blanket the pet usually sleeps on, in the carrier to help keep the pet relaxed and occupied.

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Discussion Comments
By AnswerMan — On Sep 18, 2014

I have taken a pet on a plane before and he seemed to survive the process without much trouble. The airline did offer regular plane tickets for pets, but I couldn't fit my dog into an approved pet transporter. He rode in the baggage compartment, and the airline assured me he would have access to food and fresh water inside his carrier.

I would say that a pet may require a few hours of recovery time after a long flight, just like his or her owners might.

By Inaventu — On Sep 18, 2014

I can understand why a pet owner who is moving permanently to another state or country might want to put a pet on a plane, but I can't understand why people just going on a short vacation would want to do it. Boarding pets with professionals or hiring someone to house sit makes a lot more sense to me. Those poor animals have to sit in dark, cold storage spaces for hours.

The only way I would even consider taking pets on planes is if the airline would allow me to keep the pet with me in the main cabin. I'd be willing to get the right pet transporters and pay for an additional ticket if that's what it took.

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