What to know before flying with your pet

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Are you planning on flying with your pet this summer? Thousands of people are doing it, but, whether you are flying with your pet, emotional support dog or a service animal, there are certain things you need to know before you fly.

When you take your pet on a plane, there’s a lot you need to do to make sure it’s a safe experience for your pet and the other passengers you are flying with.

Before you and your dog ever get to the airport, the animal needs to be prepared for what’s coming.

“If they are going in a carrier, get them acclimated weeks—if not months before going into the carrier,” said Dr. John DeJong of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

He says your pet needs to know, “that it’s a safe place for [them and] that they [understand] when you need to transport them.”

Flying your animal in the aircraft’s cargo hold or in the cabin depends mostly on the size of the animal and its function.

A service animal must stay with you.  If it’s a pet, it’ll be restricted to whether it can fit under the seat.

“Make sure the animal is comfortable with the owner traveling with that pet or putting it in the cargo—which now a days is very well regulated as far as temperature controls, pressurized cabin and what have you,” said DeJong.

These days, a lot of people claim they have an emotional support animal which can be most any kind of creature.

The airlines and the American Veterinary Medical Association are working to limit emotional support animals to just cats and dogs.

“If you’re traveling with an emotional support animal you’ll need documentation,” says DeJong.

Generally requirements for service or support animals include:

  • A signed document stating the animal is trained to behave.
  • A letter from a vet saying the animal is in good health and vaccinated.
  • A signed letter 48 hours before the flight from a healthcare professional stating that it’s an emotional support animal.

Some of those requirements vary—so check with your airline well before you fly with your pet to make sure you meet all the right criteria.

The US Department of Transportation has a list of things you need to know if you travel with a service or emotional support animal.

Over 500,000 pets flew last year and you need to make sure your pet travels not only comfortably, but safely too.

If you are flying overseas your pet may be quarantined at the destination.

But, DeJong says that doesn’t apply to all countries.  Each has its own regulations.

And, if you travel to Hawaii, you may also be required to quarantine your pet even though it’s part of the United States.  

The USDA offers a website with information that’ll help you determine if where you are going requires pet quarantine or not and the length of time if so.

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