Pets quickly become part of the family, and so it’s natural to include them in your holiday plans too. However, when those plans involve air travel, things may start to get a little more complicated…
Planning for pets: Thinking about taking your pet on holiday
Travelling abroad with your pet won’t be as simple as boarding the plane with them tucked in your handbag, we’re afraid, and jetting off will need some serious consideration. Is it necessary to put your pet through the stress of flying, or yourself through the hassle of organising everything if you’re going to be away for a matter of weeks? If the answer is yes, and you know your pet better than anyone, here’s what you need to know…
Firstly, the rules for animal carriage will depend upon the airline you’re travelling with, as well as the country you’re heading to; regulations are complex from place to place, and so you must seek advice before you even entertain the idea of taking your pet on a plane. Airlines will only accept animals by prior arrangement, and they will usually travel in the hold as accompanied baggage or air cargo. It is, therefore, a good idea to approach your airline or holiday company with your intentions to take your pet as soon as you book your own seats; even assistance animals must be pre-approved and assessed. Next, charges; the amount you’ll need to pay will again depend on the length of the journey, the size and weight of your animal, and the type of containers they’re travelling in.
You see it’s very much a case of adding together a number of factors. What sort of animal do you have? Where are you travelling? It is essential that you fulfil the requirements of your destination country. Some will need to see an export health certificate from your vet, others will also want to see a proof of vaccination and a health report, while others require an import permit. For your peace of mind, it pays to do your research into how the airport will handle your pet. Plenty of animals travel each day, but its understandable if you’re worried. An airport will have a team of dedicated handlers that are tasked with caring for animals up until the board, loading them into the hold, and then safely retrieving them once the journey is over.
Preparing your pet for their next adventure
Preparing your pet for plane travel will begin as much as eight months in advance, starting with a visit to your veterinary surgery for the relevant health checks, vaccinations, and any other advice that you need, as well as medication such as worming tablets, or dog flea treatments. It’s at this point that certificates should be applied for, as paperwork must be in order in advance of your flight. You may also wish to speak to your vet about sedation or anti-sickness medication if your pet is a poor traveller; this may help them to relax for the duration of the trip. You can also see a vet technician who can run a few tests on your pet to detect any severe health issues that can cause difficulties during the trip. Vet techs can be trained and qualified (you could check out recommended VTNA practice questions if you plan to take the exam) in handling and calming your pet throughout the whole checkup process.
As the travel time approaches, prepare your pet for spending time in its crate by leaving it open and easily accessible. It’s essential that they’re comfortable inside in order to limit stress. You can also consider adding a comfortable, anti-anxiety dog blanket that your pet feels comfortable with. That way, even during the flight, the blanket can provide them some comfort and prevent them from stressing out. Get your pet’s luggage ready, ensuring that your documentation is to hand in case you’re separated, they have food and water to last for the flight, and have a comfort blanket, or a familiar toy, to travel with them. Aim to arrive at the airport a good 2-4 hours prior to departure to make sure you know where you’re going and, most importantly, try to relax. Your pet will recognise if you’re stressed and might worry, becoming stressed itself. If you’ve done everything you’ve been asked to by the airline and your destination country, you can relax and enjoy the flight.
Going on holiday with a pet, particularly if that means going by plane, can be a daunting experience that starts several months before you travel. It is essential, though, that you realise just how demanding organising such an adventure can be, as it’s not to be taken lightly. That said, going on holiday with your pet can be incredibly rewarding and so, if you’re prepared to investigate the plausibility of air travel for your animal, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t got for it.