Shnookums is part of the family! Your fur-baby goes everywhere with you and everyone absolutely loves him. Even despite what your mother said last year at Thanksgiving when she called him a “flea-ridden gremlin from hell.” OK, so maybe once in a while your four-legged friend has a naughty incident, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to miss out on the annual family reunion! Besides, there won’t be turkey for him to ravage on this particular occasion…hopefully.
When you can’t bear the thought of leaving your hairy sidekick behind, never fear! Traveling with pets on planes has been pretty simple ever since Paris Hilton and Tinkerbell became inseparable (shout out to 2003). In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that more than two million pets travel by plane annually in the United States, so your aircraft has perfected the process. However, each airline has different regulations when it comes to going up, up, and away with your canine companion. For instance, did you know that you have to buy your pet a ticket? A one-way flight for an animal runs anywhere from 75 to 200 dollars depending on which air carrier you choose. Hopefully Shnookums has been saving up. Be sure to consult with your preferred carrier’s regulations before purchasing tickets for you and your furry friend, if just to make sure you can abide by and be comfortable with the rules.
Rules and Regulations
Once you’ve caved into the puppy dog eyes and told your little furball she can come along, you need to see if she actually can! Your animal must be more than eight weeks old before flying. And if sFifi is flying solo, she can’t be more than four hours early for departure at the airport. Which is great because you don’t want any stress before they take to the sky. As far as feeding goes, animals younger than 16 weeks must be given food and water every 12 hours. However, older pups are only required to be fed once every 24 hours, although they are provided water once every 12. Make sure your airline knows your dog’s feeding schedule if she is going to be transported in the cargo cabin to ensure your little furry friend gets the TLC she is entitled to.
Although you know that Mr. Wrinkles deserves all the luxurious amenities of first class, not everyone agrees with you. If your pet is flying solo, they will be shipped as cargo and stored in temperature-regulated sections within the cargo hold. Additionally, you can check your pet as “baggage” (isn’t that what your ex-boyfriend called Wrinkle-winkles?!) and they will be stored in their kennel with the other checked baggage on the plane in a separate pressurized cabin. Although this might sound a little scary to you, never fear. When you’re joining Wrinkly Poo on the plane, you also have the option to take their kennel with you into the cabin. However, this treatment is reserved for relatively small animals. The carrier must be able to fit under the seat in front of you, and you should consult with your airline ahead of time to find out the precise size requirements. Another tip to keep in mind is that many airlines only allow a certain number of pets onboard at one time. So call ahead to ensure your snuggly friend gets the VIP treatment she deserves!
Would you want to be 30,000 feet up in the air while strapped inside hard, cold plastic? Neither does Princess Puppington. So get it together and buy your non-human bestie something comfortable for the flight. And no, it doesn’t have to be a matching interspecies outfit, but both of you do look cute in blue… Typically, your kennel must be made of plastic and contain ventilation on three sides while featuring a metal door with slots that close securely. Of course you need to have one food dish and one water dish, because you don’t want them to starve! And some type of absorbent material must line the kennel floor for any potty accidents your pet may have. No shame in that! Just be ready to get to cleaning once you land. Also, your dog should be able to sit upright in their carrier, and having a little extra wiggle room on each side is ideal.
Why is your dog foaming at the mouth? Oh, they’re just excited for the trip, you say…Well, foaming or not, it’s a good idea to bring your perky pup to the vet before you take off. While not all states and airlines require a health certificate, many do ask that you submit a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. This document pretty much says that your precocious pooch is healthy and up-to-date with all of her vaccinations. If nothing else, it helps to have this on hand if you’re staying at a hotel or planning to board your dog when you land. Bonus points if you grab a copy of your pup’s shot records. And of course, these steps are crucial if you’re bringing your dog abroad. Because no one in South America wants to have to deal with a crazy Cujo outbreak.
Layovers suck. That’s why you should always try to fly direct, especially when you’re cruising with your trusty pooch. But when layovers become unavoidable, try to locate the airport’s “pet relief” area. Tons of major airports have these, which can be indoor or outdoor, to let your dog relieve their bladder and de-stress. While the term “pet relief” is pretty much a fancy name for “communal dog bathroom,” the area is a totally necessary one. So grab a complimentary poop pick-up bag and get to know your fellow travelers that are also in transit with canine companions. And who knows, maybe you lock eyes with a cute stranger and meet the love of your life while picking up fecal matter. That’ll be a story for the grandkids.
Above all try to play it cool. You ugly-crying at the airport while saying goodbye to your dog is only going to stress out your animal! So, relax. You and Maximus will be reunited and having adventures in no time. Did you remember to pack his favorite chew toy? You, dog, you.