Flying with pets is an uncomfortable but often necessary part of being a pet parent. If you have a large animal—too large to fit under your airplane seat—you’ll likely begin to research pet shipping options. In this type of pet transportation, the animal flies in the cargo hold of an airplane. They require specific crates, a supply of food, and pet parent pick up and drop off. Though this may seem like a scary form of transport, it is very safe, secure, and easily navigable. To that end, there are several steps pet parents can take to ensure pet shipping success. Here are our top three tips.
- Work on crate training. This is one of the most important steps to prepare for pet shipping, regardless of animal size, temperament, and final destination. Helping your pet get used to their travel kennel sets them up for an easier, less stressful flight. If crate training a dog, start as early as possible and do what you can to normalize the travel crate. Allow them to build positive associations—never use this crate to visit the vet, instead utilizing it for trips to the park. If crate training a cat, exercise patience. Use treats to reward the cat when she goes inside to explore.
- Assess your pet’s health. Pet health assessments are an essential piece of pet travel, regardless of transit method. However, pet shipping and cargo transport present their own array of challenges. Tell your veterinarian explicitly that you are considering shipping your animal, asking clearly if they believe him to be in good enough health. Additionally, keep in mind that sedation is never a good idea. If your pet appears to be too stressed for cargo travel, talk to a vet about your options.
- Always have a back-up plan. Accidents happen, animals are bumped from flights, and temperatures may rise or fall to dangerous numbers. Sometimes, even paperwork error can cause a last-minute delay. When shipping an animal, have a friend or family member on call at both the origination and destination point. Keep a set of emergency phone numbers on hand and taped to your pet’s crate. If you don’t have the resources to have several hands as back-up, consider hiring a professional pet relocator. This can significantly alleviate your personal stress, which will—in turn—help the animal.