Your pets are very much part of the family, and when you’re travelling – whether moving house, or simply going on holiday – it is important to be able to bring them along. However, travel can be stressful enough for humans, let alone Fido and Fluffy – the new surroundings, strange sounds and unfamiliar faces all mean your pets are out of their comfort zone. Still, there are many things you can do to make sure your pet’s journey is comfortable and relaxing. .
First, planning is key when travelling with your pet. Most airlines and other carriers cater for animal transport, but sometimes only on selected routes or services. It is important to verify in advance that the day and service number you want is available. Especially if you are travelling by air, it is vital to ensure that all airports visited in transit have the appropriate facilities for dealing with animal travellers, and that all relevant customs and freight facilities are open on the day in question – this will help reduce delays, and make sure you can reclaim your pet as soon as possible at the end of the trip.
Make sure your pet is up-to-date with its vaccinations and has a health certificate verifying that it is fit to travel – most carriers and foreign countries will require this. If you’re travelling abroad, it’s also a good idea to check on specific customs regulations and permits for the countries you’ll be visiting. Many countries issue -pet passports- – this can help speed up processing time for animals travelling abroad.
Only small dogs and cats are allowed to travel in the aeroplane cabin, and some airlines do not even permit this. Travelling in the plane’s hold is often a better option for your pet anyway – it is heated and pressure-regulated, and makes for a quieter and less stressful environment for your pet.
A suitable pet travel crate or kennel is essential for your pet’s comfort and safety while in transit. The International Air Transport Authority (IATA) has specific regulations governing containers for animal transport. For instance, the crate must be big enough that your pet can stand, sit, lie down, and turn around comfortably, and it must be sufficiently sturdy that your pet cannot force its way out.
Give your pet ample time to get used to its travel container – this will minimise its sense of being in unfamiliar surroundings and keep it calmer during the journey. Start the process a few weeks before departure to allow plenty of time. On the day of departure, give your pet a light meal a few hours before checking in and take your dog for a decent walk – this will also help keep it relaxed and comfortable.
If your pet is travelling in the plane cabin, try to check in as late as possible to minimise the time it must spend on board. If your pet is travelling in the cargo hold, check in early to allow it plenty of time to settle in and avoid any last-minute rush. Make sure you double check what is a permissible check-in time to ensure you’re within the carrier’s limits.
With a little planning and extra care, travelling with your pet can be a pleasant and stress-free experience for both you and your furry friend.