The Rules of Pet Travel

Flying with Fluffy? Here are a few key tips to keep your animal safe and sound on your travels

As much as your pet would love it, travelling in a suitcase isn’t an option

If your favourite vacation partner has paws and a tail, make sure you know the rules of pet travel

Many people consider their pets important family members and prefer to travel with them rather than leave them behind at home with a sitter or board them in a kennel.

Whatever the reason you decide to take your pet on your travels, the most important consideration, of course, is that he or she arrive at your destination safe and sound.

Here are some important tips for before and during your trip.

Bring Pet Identification

Before you leave, make sure your pet has as much identification as possible, including ID tags on your pet’s collar that list your cellphone number. This way, if your pet gets lost, you can be reached wherever you are.

You may also want to consider microchipping your animal, as a more permanent solution. After your pet has a microchip inserted, send in the registration paperwork to make sure your contact information will be in the database.

Also, don’t forget to label your pet’s carrier prominently with your name, address and phone number.

Flying with Pets

If you’re planning an airplane trip with your pet, keep in mind that some airlines don’t allow animals at all, while some only permit them during certain months and not during the hottest or coldest times of the year, as the cargo hold can be a very harsh environment.

If you have a very small dog or a cat, some airlines will allow you to bring it onboard. Most airlines only permit a few pets onboard at a time, though, so reserve well in advance.

If you’re flying with your pet in the cargo hold, be considerate of how scary that must be for them, so be sure to choose the shortest flight possible and book a direct flight with no layovers or transfers.

Your pet’s crate should meet airline requirements and be clearly labelled with the words “LIVE ANIMAL” and an arrow pointing up. And don’t lock the cage in a way that would prevent a crew member from opening it in case of emergency.

Finally, pack something soft in the crate with your scent on it, such as a T-shirt you’ve worn for a few hours. This can be very reassuring to your pet through the bumps and movements of the flight.

Claire Newell is the travel media expert for Global BC, host of the travel series Operation: Vacation, best-selling author, spokesperson, wife and mother of two.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.