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Flying Fido – A short list on pet travel safety

Flying Fido:
A short list on pet travel safety 

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By Alyson Shields

Pet travel safety is key. Your four-legged friends are like family, so why exclude them from the vacation? Many travelers are unsure or unaware on how to travel with their pets. Here are some of the most valuable tips on traveling with Fido.

Pet travel safety – First: Do your research

If you have a big dog, a mutt, or an “aggressive breed,” make sure you check around to find the airline that’s right for you. Different airlines have different pet policies and some don’t allow certain breeds or weights. Delta Airlines, for example, requires a health certificate for pets in cargo, but not for those checked as carry-on. You must also complete a “Live Animal Checklist” that includes a food and water schedule (supply food if your pet needs to eat in-flight.)

You must also bring your kennel to travel in the cabin. It can be hard or soft-sided, as long as it has, at least, two ventilated sides. Cargo pets must be in a shipping kennel (hard sided.) All kennels must be able to stand upright.

Snub- or pug-nosed cats and dogs are no longer allowed to be checked as baggage and must be cargo pets. For more information, see their pet policy: http://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/special-travel-needs/pets.html

Also, check out http://www.bringfido.com/travel/ for more airline pet policies and procedures, all in one place.

Pet Airways is based around traveling pets, so check them out before you book with a major airline. The routes are limited, but you might be able to snag a flight with other pet people, especially in the continental US. Check them out at https://www.facebook.com/petairways

Pet travel safety – Prepare them

If your pet isn’t an active traveler, be sure to prepare them for the trip. Purchase the required kennel well in advance and let Fido get acclimated to it. Leave treats and toys in the kennel so he’ll find it more appealing.

Make sure and prepare your pet for potential jostling. Take him for walks or runs, bumpy car rides or place the kennel on the washing machine (but NEVER leave him there unattended!) after he gets used to the crate. If your pet is too frightened or nervous by these activities, call your vet for suggestions. Your pet may need a tranquilizer (be sure to check your airline’s policy on tranquilized pets!)

Finally, ensure that your pet is calm around others. Participate in more social activities before a flight to ensure a peaceful pup around others. Take your pet to the dog park, a pet-friendly store or to an obedience class to prepare them to meet lots of other people and pets.

You’ve landed, now what?

When you reach your destination, how do you plan on taking care of your pet? Will he go everywhere with you or loaf about your hotel room? Either way, be sure to book a pet-friendly hotel and be sure of their policies regarding pets.

Looking for a pet-friendly hotel? Check out www.hotels.petswelcome.com. Their extensive list has destinations galore, down to the zip code. It has featured chains as well as pet-friendly local inns. Some familiar chains in Georgia are LaQuinta Inn, Quality Inn, Courtyard Marriot, Red Roof Inn, Motel 6, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants and Comfort Inn and Suites.

Consider boarding or babysitting

If you still aren’t comfortable traveling with your pet for whatever reason, consider boarding your pet at a local kennel or “Pet Spa” for your trip. These kennels are full of knowledgeable staff that love animals and will ensure the safety of your pet.

“Pet Spas” are getting increasingly popular- and with luxury kennels, video check-ins and all kinds of pampering, it’s easy to see why. Check around for local businesses (such as Camp Bow Wow in Atlanta) or look for a larger PetSmart or Best Friends Pet Place. Your veterinarian can refer you to a trusted facility to board your pet.

If you don’t want to leave your pet with strangers, no matter how luxurious it could be, consider asking a friend, relative or neighbor to watch your pet, or hiring a pet-sitter. Either way, a familiar face will put your pet at ease while you’re away.

If you chose to hire a sitter, have them come over and play with your pet, feed them, etc. before you leave so your pet will see that they are not a threat.

Remember: when in doubt, contact your veterinarian for advice on traveling with your pet.

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