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Flying with Pets: Tips for Flying with Dogs & Cats

Traveling with pets can be a rewarding experience, but it requires careful planning and consideration to ensure a smooth and stress-free journey for both you and your furry companion. Here are some essential tips to help you prepare for flying with your dog or cat.

Pet Flights

  1. Make Reservations Early: Ensure you have made a reservation for your pet well in advance, as most airlines have a limit on the number of pets allowed per flight. Check if your pet can travel in the cabin with you or if they need to be in cargo.

  2. Choose Direct Flights: Whenever possible, choose a direct flight to minimize the stress and complications of layovers.

Required Documents

  1. Rabies Vaccination: Ensure your pet has a current rabies vaccination, as required by all U.S. states for dogs over four months old, and in some areas, for cats as well.

  2. Health Certificate: Obtain a certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI) or health certificate from your veterinarian within 30 days of travel, verifying your pet is free from infectious diseases.

  3. International Travel: For international trips, check the USDA and Plant Health Inspection Service requirements, as arrangements may take up to a year. Consider hiring a pet export expert or a pet nanny for complicated travel plans.

Preparing the Pet Carrier

  1. Size and Quality: Choose a carrier that is appropriately sized for your pet. Practice putting your pet in and out of the carrier, and extend the time they are confined to get them accustomed to it.

  2. Airport Security: Be prepared to remove your pet at TSA security checkpoints. Travel with a slip leash and a quick-release buckle collar to keep your pet secure while passing through security.

Keeping Your Pet Calm

  1. Anti-Anxiety Measures: If your pet becomes distressed during travel, consult your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications. Avoid using non-prescription options like Benadryl or CBD, as they are not effective anti-anxiety drugs.

  2. Practice and Preparation: Regularly practice loading and unloading your pet from the carrier to ensure smooth transitions during travel.

  3. Car Sickness: For pets prone to car sickness, ask your veterinarian about medications like maripotant (Cerenia), meclizine, or ondansetron. For milder cases, feeding ginger snaps before travel may help.

Day of Travel

  1. Grooming: Bathe or groom your pet a few days before travel to ensure they are clean and smell pleasant for the journey.

  2. Pet Supplies: Pack a few treats, a water bowl, and some zip-top bags of food in case of lost luggage. Bring daily medications in your carry-on bag to avoid any risks from lost checked luggage.

  3. Pet Relief Stations: Research the location of pet relief stations at your departure and arrival airports.

Additional Tips

  1. Microchip Your Pet: Ensure your pet is microchipped and that the microchip is registered in your name. This provides an added layer of protection in case your pet gets lost during travel.

  2. Minimize Feeding: On the day of travel, give your pet a half-portion meal and a small sip of water to reduce the likelihood of travel sickness and the need to eliminate during the flight.

  3. Toys and Comfort Items: Include small, quiet toys in the carrier to keep your pet entertained without disturbing other passengers.

Traveling with pets can be complex, but with proper planning and preparation, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable journey for both you and your furry friend. If you find the process too challenging, consider whether your pet might be better off staying at home or boarding during your trip. With experience and advance planning, you and your pet can confidently navigate air travel together. For more tips and information on pet care, visit

flying with dogs
flying with dogs


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