Recently in the news, a puppy died during a flight after the owner was required to store the puppy’s carrier, with the puppy in it, in the overhead storage compartment — an arrangement that a flight attendant had reportedly insisted upon.
We are Sunset Vet want to make sure your pet is always healthy and safe, including when traveling. With that in mind, we wanted to give you some important tips if you need to fly with your pet:
Call the Airline
Check with the airline to determine the requirements they have in place for flying with pets. Some pets are small enough to travel in the cabin in carriers that meet certain size requirements. Others can travel in the cargo hold in airline approved carriers. Most airlines also require a record of vaccination and an interstate health certificate filled out by a certified veterinarian. Service dogs have their own set of requirements.
Place Carriers Under the Seat
Pets flying in the cabin should be kept in their carrier and travel under the seat. The overhead bin is not a safe place. While not airtight there may not be adequate ventilation and climate control. Also, pets could be injured by shifting luggage or during turbulence.
Flying in Cargo
Flying in the cargo hold in an approved carrier is a safe method as well provided federal regulations for pets traveling in the hold are met. Try to find a direct flight if possible to minimize the amount of time the pet is in the carrier and exposure to the elements during layovers and plane swaps. Try for early morning or late afternoon/early evening flights during the summer and mid-day flights during the winter.
Dogs That Are at Increased Risk
Brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds are at increased risk of complications during travel. They cannot regulate their body temperature as well as other breeds and can be prone to overheating or hypothermia. They can also be prone to respiratory distress if they become agitated.
Pets with chronic health conditions may also need special accommodations for travel. Talk to your veterinarian about traveling with your pet. Most of the time it is usually best to board your pet at a facility with a veterinarian on staff.
For more information about safely traveling with your pet, follow the links below and talk with your veterinarian about your pet’s specific needs.
Federal Aviation Administration
American Veterinary Medical Association