Monday, July 15, 2013

Guest Post: How to Fly the Fur-Friendly Skies

We're in the midst of vacation season, so there's no time like the present for sharing some tips for traveling with your pup--by air!

Today's guest post is by Amy Nicole, writer, runner, and enthusiastic mom to adorable 5-year-old rescue dog Lola (who shares some of Desmond's behavioral quirks).

How cute is Lola?

How to Fly the Fur-Friendly Skies

So you’ve decided on a fabulous vacation destination and you want to bring your furry companion along for the trip as well. Rather than brave the open road for long hours or days on end, you decided to fly to your final destination. If this is the first time you’ve flown with your pet before, you might be asking yourself: “Will I be able to bring my pet on the plane? Do I need to book another seat for my pet? Will they want to store my pet in cargo?”

Luckily, flying with pets is so common these days that many airlines have started to accommodate to your pet’s needs and make it safe for them. Booking air travel for your pet this summer? Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a flight with your pet.

Bobcat flying Sawtooths
(image via Sam Beebe's flickr)
Make Sure Your Pet is Healthy
Bring them to the vet and get a checkup for your pet. Make sure there’s nothing wrong and ask your vet if it’s safe for you to fly with your pet. You’ll want to grab any documents and paperwork from the vet that the airlines require so you don’t have any hassle when you’re checking in. Many airlines will want to see vaccine records to ensure your pet is up to date on shots.

Think About Other Passengers
If you know your pet hates being in their traveling crate and will be a distraction for you and the rest of the people on the flight, consider asking your vet for something to ease their anxiety. There are sedatives that your vet can prescribe to give your pet while you’re traveling, but make sure you follow their instructions before you give them any medication. Something that might be safe for humans can be dangerous for pets, so follow your vet’s orders when it comes to sedating your pets.

Nora Arden
(image via Andrea Arden's flickr)
A Happy Pet is a Fed Pet
Before the flight, feed your pet their food and water. This will help them be content and not whine for food while they are 30,000 feet above the ground. Keep in mind that you don’t want to feed them too much food because they might relieve themselves in their crate. If you forget to feed them, you can give them some treats during the flight to quell their appetite. Natural Balance has some great treats that are available in 3 ounce bags perfect for travel. Also, this helps move you along through the security check process as the TSA is extremely strict about passing liquids and foods through check points.

Give the Airlines a Heads Up
Let them know you’re bringing a pet on board, if your pet is sitting in the cabin. This will help the crew prepare themselves so they know how to handle any situation you and your pet have. It’s also good to point out that having your pet in the cabin next to you can cost you the same amount as your plane ticket. You should also know the size limit that’s associated with bringing a pet on board and make sure you adhere to it. The last thing you want to do is show up at the ticket counter and realize you have run into complications and can’t bring your pet on board, or need to change your travel accommodations at the last minute because of your pet, which can be an expensive hassle.

Travelling with your pet
(image via MayanExplore's flickr)
Traveling can be stressful, especially when with a pet. However, these tips should help both of you to have a stress-free flight to your long-dreamed-of vacation destination. Knowing the procedures before you board will also help you avoid costly last-minute changes to your vacation plans, like having to book another ticket at the last minute or change flights because the airline didn’t have room for your pet. By preparing in advance, you and your furry flying companion can make traveling a more enjoyable experience.

How about you guys? Have you ever flown with your dog? Desmond would be a horror. I don't think I'd ever do it. Cars, sure. Trains? Doubtful. Planes?? LOL! And you may have heard Kari's story at Dog is God in Reverse about their move back to Alaska with 4 dogs (if not, please go read it; it still makes me want to hug her and give her a bottle of wine). But lots of folks have no issues at all. I'd love to hear if you're one of them. 
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