Recent headlines about air travel drama are always troubling, especially when the lives of innocent animals are involved.
Flying the skies with your furry friend can seem like a daunting task, especially if it is the first time your pet is coming with you on a plane — but it doesn’t have to be.
A little planning goes a long way when bringing your animal buddy with you on a plane. PEOPLE Pet Vet Evan Antin has three simple tips that will make the lives of all traveling pet parents a bit easier, allowing you to avoid snags and keep your furry pal as safe as possible.
Before you even buy your plane tickets, make sure to read this expert vet advice.
1. Research Before You Buy: “People must know that different airlines have different requirements for travel. Always do your research and make sure you and your pet come prepared for the travel day,” Dr. Antin advised. It is ideal to have your pet travel with you in the passenger section of the plane, avoiding the cargo hold. Each airline has different rules about what kind of pets are allowed in the cabin, which can also vary depending on where in the world you are traveling. Make sure you know an airline’s rules before buying tickets.
2. Have a Practice Run with Your Pet: While you can’t perfectly simulate air travel, ensuring your pet is comfortable being in a carrier for long periods, can go without bathroom breaks and can stay calm around a variety of sights and sounds is important to their safety before, during and after the flight.
“Preparing a pet to do anything is always best. Start with small versions of whatever it is. However, this is obviously not conducive when it comes to flying in jet carriers. Some things you can do include getting your pets used to the crate they’ll be traveling in and maybe taking them on some car rides so they can get used to being in a moving vehicle,” PEOPLE’s Pet Vet said.
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3. Make Sure Your Pet Is Healthy Enough to Fly: Even in the cabin, flying can be a bizarre and stressful experience for a pet. Make sure you are putting your fur baby first by checking with a veterinarian that they are healthy enough to withstand the general stress of air travel.
“Certain health issues can make a pet a less good candidate for air travel including severe anxiety, advanced heart or other cardiovascular disease, and severe osteoarthritis to name a few,” Dr. Antin said.
He added that sedating your pet for a flight should not be your go-to answer for keeping them calm and comfortable. “Be aware that many airlines do not accept pets that have been medicated with any sedatives”