Summer is the season when everyone goes away from home to relax and discover new places and new people. For many of these people, the fun and joy would not be complete if they did not take their pets on vacation.
However, this is easier said than done in many situations. A large number of airlines used to deny the access of pets in the cabin. As many people sadly saw on the news, putting pets in the cargo area during a flight can lead to tragedies: dehydration, panic attacks or even the loss of the furry family member.
Changing Times: Treating Your Furry Friends the Way They Deserve
After many complaints (and lawsuits) from pet owners, airlines have finally understood that pets are not luggage. They are living, breathing and sentient creatures who need to be close to their owners during a flight. Just as the first flights are a worrisome experience for people, pets can get upset and afraid, especially during take-off and landing.
This article will outline what you should expect when you are flying with your pet in the cabin, from the initial preparations to the take-off. In this way, your pet’s first vacation away from home will be as pleasant and stress-free as possible.
The First Step: Making Your Pet Eligible for Overseas Travel
Before you start dreaming about the fun and games with your family and pet on the beach, make sure that your four legged friend can travel legally. According to the British Veterinary Association, the basic conditions for travelling with a dog, cat or ferret are:
- The animal must have a microchip implanted before the rabies vaccination;
- The rabies vaccine must be administered at least 21 days ahead of the travel date;
- The animal must hold a valid pet passport;
- You must undertake the travel with an approved transport company and follow an authorised route.
One small word of warning concerning the rabies vaccine: your pet must be at least 12 weeks old to be eligible for vaccination. If your pet is an emotion support animal, you should download airlines forms for ESAs before booking your ticket.
Preparing Your Pet for Its First Travel
Once the paperwork is done, you should focus on helping your pet adjust to the conditions during the journey. The simplest way of doing this is to search online for videos and audio recordings of planes taking off and landing.
Turn on the sound on the speakers and let your pet listen to the unfamiliar noises, noting their reactions. If they act extremely scared after they listen to the sounds for several times, you should consider making other arrangements for the pet to be looked after at home or at the local kennels.
However, most pets are like children: after the initial scare, they get used to the noise and are quite excited to experience something new.
Arrival at the Airport
The rule of the thumb in this situation is to arrive as early as possible at the airport. Make sure that your pets ate, drank and take them out of the airport to relieve themselves. If you are going to a distant vacation location, the best idea – both for small children and for pets – is to break the journey in several legs. While airports are not the most welcoming places, they offer facilities such as toilets, snack machines and seats where you can all rest between flights.
During the check-in procedure, your pets will be weighted. Also, the control crew will inspect and measure the carrier bag. You will not have any issues if these measurements slightly exceed the maximum accepted levels.
Once you have passed through check-in, you should try and be among the first passengers to board the plane. This will give you plenty of time to place your pet’s carrier bag in a comfortable position. Also, you can calm them down before the noise level goes up as more people board the plane.
During the Flight
You should always have a few treats as well as your pet’s favourite toy with you. Just like children, pets get bored during a flight and need to be entertained. However, do not overdo the intake of food (treats, vitamin bones, etc.). By contrast to children, you won’t be able to take your pet to the toilet during the flight.
If you follow these steps, your family and your pet will arrive safely at your travel destination and ready to have fun. Enjoy your vacation!