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1. Visit www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/animals. This is the USDA website for animal transport. Check the site to find out your specific needs/documents for your chosen mode of travel.
2. Animals should have all vaccines current and it is highly recommended that the animal be microchipped. During travel pets should have an appropriately fitting collar with 2 tags for identification and contact info. Be sure the contact information is a number were someone can be reached quickly.
3. If you are traveling internationally you must be aware of the country of destination’s specific requirements for travel, e.g., health certificate, vaccine documentation, time frame for vaccinations.
4. A health certificate must be obtained through a veterinarian 10 days prior to air travel.
5. Try to schedule flights at “non-peak” times and avoid flying during extreme temperatures (<45° or >85°) if possible.
6. Most animals weighing less than 20 pounds can fly in the cabin with the owner. The animal must stay in its container and stored under the seat in front of the owner. Visit www.petswag.com for FAA approved carriers.
7. Animals larger than 20 pounds will be stored in the cargo hold. Be certain the carrier is well-ventilated, made of sturdy plastic and has a secure locking system. Tape any wheels so the carrier cannot roll freely. Label the carrier with “LIVE ANIMAL” along with your name, home address, phone number and destination address and phone number. Once on the plane, inform the flight attendant that the pet is below and ask them to confirm that the pet is within a pressurized compartment. If the flight is delayed for a long period of time, insist your pet be removed from the plane for its safety.
8. It is a good idea to familiarize your pet with the carrier in advance. Give your pet access to the carrier on its own terms for a month prior to travel. The carrier will become familiar and one less stressor for the pet. Be sure pet’s nails are trimmed to avoiding snagging the carrier and causing injury.
9. There are some pheromone sprays and collars that you can discuss with your veterinarian. These products can help ease your pet’s stress during travel without sedation.
10. Avoid sedation for the pet if possible. According to the AVMA, over sedation of a pet is the most frequent cause of animal death during airline transport.
11. Hydration is of utmost importance. It is a good idea to have a travel bowl with some ice cubes in the carrier with your pet. Do not fill the bowl with water, the travel movement will spill water and your pet will have a soggy, unhealthy ride.
12. Lastly, carry your pet’s photo on you. The photo will be helpful if you and your pet are separated. Check your pet’s condition as soon as you are safely able to do so once landing. And most importantly, “Happy Travels!!”