Is Air Travel Safe For Pets?
Published on: April 15, 2015 | Author: Starwood Animal Transport
At some point in all the excitement of learning you are moving a long way from home – perhaps to a far-away foreign country – you have probably stopped to wonder if air travel is safe for your pets. You certainly want to take your four-legged family members with you, but will they be OK with the journey?
Pet-friendly airlines make special accommodations for pets.
They know how important your pets are, so they understand how concerning it can be to entrust your pooch or kitty into their care. They have put in place special procedures and precautions expressly to protect traveling pets.
Not all airlines are equally pet-friendly, but the good ones will load your animals onto the plane last and take them off first, so they spend the least amount of time onboard. They also place live animals in the baggage compartment, which is pressurized and temperature-controlled. When weather conditions are dangerously hot or cold, airlines can prohibit pet travel altogether, or they may allow departures and arrivals only during certain times of the day.
Some airlines have special rules regarding short-nosed dogs and cats, because breathing is generally more difficult for these breeds under any circumstances.
You may be annoyed at having to purchase a special IATA-approved shipping kennel for each pet, but these carriers are specifically designed to be extra-sturdy while affording plenty of ventilation. They are sized to give animals enough room to move around and get comfortable without giving them too much room that would be unsafe.
You can outfit each pet’s kennel with some absorbent material (nothing fluffy if your guy is snub-nosed, so he can’t accidentally cover his face). As a safety precaution to stay “connected” with your pets, clearly mark the kennel with your name and contact information and your pet’s name. If you work with a professional pet transport company, all this will be done for you – they can even provide you with the correct kennel so you can skip the research and shopping.
Sedation is no longer allowed for pets traveling by air. Although giving Muffin and Max a tranquilizer might seem like a good idea, these drugs impair an animal’s ability to remain alert and properly balanced, which puts your pets at greater risk for injury or anxiety.
The statistics are in your pet’s favor.
There are times when pets become ill or die because of air travel. The US Department of Transportation has required airlines to report pet-related problems since May 2005. Between that time and the end of 2012, a total of 330 dogs and cats died, were injured or became lost as a result of air travel.
Although USDOT does not require airlines to report the total number of animals transported, the airline industry itself estimates they carry more than 600,000 pets each year. That means the chance of air travel causing a problem for your pet is about 0.009%.
You have to consider your pet’s overall welfare.
While air travel is statistically safe for pet travel, you also have to consider the question of whether air travel is the best choice for your particular pets. It is essential to talk with your vet as early in the moving process as possible. Aside from the paperwork and possible exams or additional vaccinations your furred ones may need, your vet knows your pets as patients, so he or she can advise you knowledgeably and compassionately about whether or not your pets are appropriate candidates for air travel.
How old are Muffin and Max? Are they in good health, or do either of them have a condition that could be unsafely exacerbated by air travel or the overall stress of a long-distance move? Some animals just don’t “move” well, no matter how far you’re going. Some countries don’t allow certain breeds of dogs or cats, and in some places cats must be kept indoors.
How long are you likely to stay in your new home? If you’re moving for a one-year assignment to a country that has a lengthy quarantine requirement, perhaps your furred ones would be better off waiting with a friend or relative at home for you to return.
Will your new home offer a safe environment for your pets? Moving to London or Sydney is likely to be pretty much “business as usual” for your pets, but if you’re headed to someplace that has poisonous snakes, frogs, insects, etc. or other new dangers you will want to be fully aware of how to protect your pets.
Once you’re confident your pets are capable of traveling safely by air, doing everything you can to prepare them will ease the process, so their airplane trip can be safe and comfortable and you can retain your peace of mind.
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