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The Risks of Relocating with Your Pet in the Winter

Published on: December 21, 2017  |  Author: Starwood Animal Transport


in the airport for plane to relocate in the winter with petAn overseas move can happen at any time of the year. If you will be relocating with your pet in winter, you need to be aware of certain seasonal risks. With luck, none of them will affect your plans, but preparation is the key to smooth, safe pet travel in any season. 

In many places, winter is downright cold. Brrrrrr. Winter weather can be dramatic, and it is also unpredictable. Bad weather can cause:

  • Flight delays
  • Pet travel embargoes
  • Bumping
  • Health considerations
  • Disruption of the rest of your family’s travel plans 

Some of these risks are out of your control, others you can mitigate. For example, plan your pet’s travel for midday when it’s as warm as possible. 

Avoid holidays

If you have any choice about scheduling your relocation, pick dates that don’t coincide with some winter holiday, including spring break. Who needs the additional chaos? And heaviest travel dates increase the risk of overbooking. 

This can affect your pet as well as you. Each airline limits the number of pets they allow on any given flight, so you might assume that your pet is a lock since you’ve made and paid for his reservation. Not necessarily, though, because airlines do have the right to bump your pet if they need the cargo space. 

Weather embargoes

When the outdoor temperature drops below 45o F, airlines declare a “no-fly day.” Pets are not allowed to fly. No matter how efficient your airline’s personnel, animals have to wait on the tarmac where they are exposed to the cold during loading and unloading. It’s too cold to be safe. 

There are two critical points to understand about potential weather embargoes:

  1. The temperature cannot fall below 45o F ANY STOP along your pet’s journey ­ the point of departure, arrival, or any airports in between where flights put down. So the weather may be fine where you are now, but too cold at your destination. Or vice versa. The more complex your pet’s itinerary, the more opportunities there are for weather embargoes to kick in. Of course, it all depends on where you are and where you’re going.
  2. Because weather changes quickly and a degree or two makes all the difference, airlines make decisions about weather embargoes on a day-by-day basis. If things are iffy, you won’t know until early in the morning of your furry companion’s departure day whether travel is a “go” or not. 

The implications of this second point are important. Weather that puts your pet’s plans on hold may not keep you from flying. If you’re scheduled to travel together, now what? Who will be left behind to deal with your pet while he awaits a green light to fly? It could take days. 

How well does your pet tolerate cold?

Is she in good health, or does she have a chronic condition such as arthritis (or a very short coat) that makes her susceptible to cold? Dogs and cats traveling as cargo ride in a compartment that is pressurized and temperature-controlled just like the cabin where you sit. Nonetheless, you can help her stay cozy by putting a warm blanket in the bottom of her carrier. Use something she’s familiar with, because that will comfort her emotionally, too, helping reduce her anxiety. 

What if your dog is an extra-hardy breed?

You may be thinking to yourself, “But my dog doesn’t care if it’s freezing outside!” You’re right. Malamutes, huskies and other northern breeds have thick coats. To accommodate this fact, some airlines will accept a “low temperature acclimation letter” from your veterinarian. This confirms your dog is safe to travel when it’s too cold for other dogs. 

Don’t assume, though, ask your airline specifically about this. And beware: if it’s going to be below 20o, even with the certificate your dog will probably be turned away. 

Weather delays

We all know that snow and ice on the tarmac, excessive winds, etc. can cause widespread delays or flight cancellations. That affects pet travel, too. 

Bad weather can also delay or prevent you from getting your pet to the airport on time, even if his flight is still on schedule. You’ll want to plan ahead for that eventuality, too. An easy way to do that is to let our Starwood team handle door-to-door pet travel arrangements. That way, if your pooch or kitty needs last-minute boarding, it won’t cause a glitch in everyone’s plans. 

Peace of mind is the #1 goal whenever you relocate with your pet. That comes from knowing your beloved Furred One is safe and comfortable. Unpredictable wintertime events can add to your stress, but there’s no need to worry as long as you know what could happen and take steps in advance to prepare as best you can. Call us, because we can help. At Starwood, we’re peace of mind specialists, and we’re always warm when it comes to pets.

Flying with your pet