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Flying with Pets

It’s finally summer, which means many people are looking to travel with their four-legged friends. Many people do not realize the amount of preparation that is required when flying with a pet.
Traveling by Plane: Traveling by air with your animal can be a stressful experience for both you and your pet. However, it doesn’t have to be if you are equipped with the right tools and know what to expect. There are many steps that need to be taken prior to flying with your pet. It is very important to investigate the requirements for the specific airline that you are traveling with, each airline differs in their pre-departure requirements.  Check out the following link which lists many airlines individual requirements: https://www.bringfido.com/travel/airline_policies/. It is also a smart idea to call the airlines directly to confirm that you are up to date with all the requirements. International travel will have additional requirements that must be met by pets and their owners.
Health Certificates: All animals that are flying across state lines, with the exception of guide dogs, are required to have a rabies vaccination and a valid health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian within 10 days of traveling.  
Pet Carriers: Prior to departure check to make sure that your pet’s carrier is approved by your specific airline. Animals will experience less stress during the journey if they are acclimated to their approved carrier.  Several days to weeks prior to departure it is helpful to place your animal in the carrier they will be traveling in for short periods of time, so they do not experience heightened levels of stress on travel day.
Tranquilizers/Sedation:  If your dog normally experiences high levels of anxiety you might consider administering a tranquilizer. However, tranquilizers can have negative effects on your animal in the event of flying. All animals that are flying, whether it be in the cabin or in the belly of the plane, are exposed to increased altitude pressures. This can create respiratory and cardiovascular problems for dogs which are sedated.  Snub-nosed breeds are especially affected by this. The decision of whether to prescribe a tranquilizer should be discussed at length with your veterinarian before flying.  
Weather: Extreme hot and cold temperatures can pose a potential health threat when traveling with you pet. If possible, in the summer try and fly in the early morning or late evening. Similarly, when traveling in the winter try to find a flight in the middle of the day when it will be the warmest.  When flying in weather that is either above 85F or below 45F an ‘acclimation letter’ signed by your vet may be required. Additionally, most airlines will not let pets fly if the temperature is above 95F or below 20F even with an acclimation letter.
 Blog by Nicole Lathrop, senior at Colorado State University


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