How To Fly With Your Pet

Image: Elya Vatel/shutterstock
Image: Elya Vatel/shutterstock

When you own an animal, you will inevitably have experiences with that dog, cat, bird or other creature that leaves you terrified for their safety. Leaving them with a strange person when you go out of town, taking them to the groomer and the monthly or annual checkup at the vet can all be cause for a rather large amount of concern. However, none are as nerve wracking as when you have to fly with your pet.

We’ve all heard the horror stories. Sometimes a dog arrives at its final destination dead in the crate, in other situations an animal gets inadvertently shipped somewhere else or on occasion becomes the subject of cruel mistreatment from airline workers who are later dismissed. Any pet owner who sees this stuff  is left wondering whether there’s anything they can do to make things better when their beloved pal has to fly in the cargo hold of a foreign, cold and scary vehicle.

Fortunately, there are a few things that help. Having recently had to fly with my best pal Raj, I discovered a few things during that you can do if ever you have to fly with your dogs.

1. Tire them out before the journey

This one is paramount! Before you go to the airport, give your pet a healthy level of exercise. 1-2 hours of high energy movement should be enough to cause them to be relaxed and unfussy when you have to leave them behind at the cargo offices of the airline you are traveling around on.

2. Bring Food!

Like humans, other animals are driven by impulses. They too want to sleep, fuck and perhaps most importantly, eat. Most companies will allow you to attach a small bag of food to your animal crate and will actually feed your dog or other creature at some point during the flight. For really good results, hide a sedative amongst the food in order to keep your friend extra calm.

3. Don’t Stress

Most companies transport significantly large amounts of animals every day. The odds that yours will be hurt on the job are similar to that which one has of being struck by lightning in the Sahara. Sure, it could happen, but you really shouldn’t count on it and should just learn to relax.

4. Make the crate their safe space

Don’t pull a me and buy and assemble the thing the day before you have to go. Plan for at least a week of adjustment and gradually acclimatize your friend to the small area. Throw in old blankets and unwashed shirts you have recently worn and your dog/cat/bird/etc. will love it.

And that’s really most of what you need to know. It can be a tense thing to think about, but with proper planning and a cool head, you and your furry friend can go anywhere in the world with relative ease, provided you’re willing to pay that is.

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