Who doesn’t want to go on a holiday with their pet? However, I get confused booking my own flights let alone booking flights for my dog! And it gets even more confusing when you’re thinking about international travel!

There are many things to consider before travelling with your pet. We have so many people come in to ask us at the clinic! We, at My Vet Animal Hospital, have compiled our top tips on travelling with your pet!

Pets and flying
First of all, it is very important to make sure that your pet is fit to fly. If your pet has any underlying conditions such as heart conditions, respiratory illness, obesity, or anxiety, they may not be fit to fly.

It’s also important to bear in mind that brachycephalic breeds (squishy-nosed dogs and cats) have a higher risk of complications when it comes to flying. Brachycephalic breeds tend to have compromised breathing, which predispose them to overheating and respiratory issues.

Note that a vet check is normally compulsory for many airlines prior to travel. It is very, very important to check in with your local vet before travelling.

International vs. Domestic
The preparations you’ll have to make can differ wildly depending on if you’re flying domestic or international.

If your pet’s got the all-clear from the vet and is fit to travel, travelling domestically in Australia isn’t usually an issue. Just make sure that you’re up-to-date with everything. Paralysis tick isn’t endemic in the whole of Australia, but it’s always good to have prevention onboard just in case. Also, some states may have unique requirements. Tasmania, for example, requires a vet to sign off that your furbaby has had tapeworm prevention at least 14 days prior to entry.

Note that if you are flying internationally, there’s a lot more research to do. Each country has their own set of requirements, including giving intestinal worming before travel or vaccinating against specific pathogens. You can find each country’s requirements here. (That’s why some people like outsourcing this to a pet travel agent.)

If you are planning to bring your pet back into Australia, note that Australia is very strict when it comes to letting pets through their borders. There are certain countries from which your pet cannot fly. If you want to fly your pet from these countries, you may need to organise for your pet to be held in another country for a few months before entering Australia.

To ensure nothing is missed, start organising your pet’s international travel at least 6 months prior.

Things to consider
There are a few things that you must take into considerations when flying your pets. These include:

  • Crate size
    All pets must travel in a crate that is IATA (International Air Transport Association) approved. The crate has to be sturdy enough and appropriately-sized for your pet’s safety and comfort.
  • Crate training
    It is very important to ensure that your pet has been crate-trained before flying. For some pets, crates are scary, so it’s important to train your pet to feel comfortable in a crate. Start crate training as early as possible – you don’t want to spring a long flight in an unfamiliar crate on your pet.
  • Vet checks
    This is normally compulsory when you fly with any major airline. Even if it’s not, though, it’s always good to check in with your vet! Your vet may pick up on something that could potentially put your pet at risk when flying!
  • Flights and airlines
    Different airlines have different requirements when it comes to flying your pets. It is very important to check with each airline, especially since regulations can change over time.
  • Best time to fly
    It is very important to take into consideration the time of your pet’s flight. For example, if you have to fly in the peak of summer, it would be best to fly early in the morning or late in the evening when the temperature is cooler.

Pet travel companies
Much like how organising a travel agent can make things a million times easier for yourself, you can enlist a travel agent to help your pet fly! Services like JetPets help you book your pet’s flight (ensuring you and your pet travel on the same flight), offer taxi services, and help organise all the travel documents your pet needs.

Is sedation an option?
Pets generally travel in the cargo section of the plane, which can be very stressful. However, sedation is generally not recommended for flying. Sedation can cause unpredictable effects on the heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure; if anything goes wrong, no one will be there to give your pet the necessary veterinary attention.

Your veterinarian may recommend the use of anxiety medications, just to take the edge off of the flight. The use of synthetic pheromones including Adaptil collars for dogs and the Feliway spray for cats can also be very helpful. It may also be helpful to use supplements, such as Zylkene to help reduce anxiety. However, your furbaby is an individual and can have a variable response to these therapies. That’s why it’s so important to discuss your concerns with your vet.

In summary
There are many things to consider before flying your pet, as it may not be suitable for every pet. If you are relocating internationally, always make preparations ahead of time, so you don’t forget anything important! Your vet should be your first stop if you are planning to fly your pet.

Are you thinking of flying your pet? What worries you most? Let us know in comments!

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