How to prepare your pet for a flight

Travelling with your pet is a great way to see the world, and with your furry companion by your side, exploring new horizons becomes even more exciting. Much like owning a pet in the first place, travelling with them brings a wholesome array of mental health benefits – not to mention, they are wonderful ice-breakers when meeting new people along the way.

Here, we explore some helpful tips to get your pet travel ready.

Take a trip to the vet

Before you travel with your pet, it’s important to have them thoroughly checked over by a veterinarian. Not only does this ensure they are in good health to travel, but most airlines require a health certificate to allow pets on board. At the appointment, be sure to ask for any necessary vaccinations or treatments your pet needs to be allowed into your destination.

Many pet-owners wonder if they should sedate their beloved four-legged friends for a flight, but the advice is not to do so. The American Veterinary Medical Association says that sedating pets before flights can lead to respiratory complications, plus it affects their ability to balance, which can result in injury during their transportation.

Get them used to a crate

Animals travel in specialist bays on aircrafts, which are pressurised and temperature controlled for their comfort. They must however be contained inside a suitable crate, which will be secured to the inside of the bay. For your pet to be as comfortable as possible, be sure to familiarise them with their crate before you depart on your journey.

You can leave it in a comfortable position in your home with the door open, and place their bed inside to encourage them to investigate it. Once they are comfortable with being inside the crate, practise shutting the door for short periods and rewarding them with treats. Be sure to never use the crate as a punishment, and always let them out when they are calm – if you open the door when they are barking or whining, they may learn they have to make noise to be released.

Encourage sociable behaviour

Before, during and after their flight, your pet will be around other pets and they will be handled by multiple members of staff. So, it’s vital that they are friendly and used to being around new people, as well as other animals. Be sure to take the time to train your pet to behave appropriately by socialising them as much as possible before you travel.

If your pet is typically nervous or aggressive in new situations, seek help from an animal behaviour specialist to fix the issues before you travel. If your airline allows you to, you can also provide your pet with their bed or a favourite toy in their crate to help keep them calm during the flight.

Stay calm

Pets are amazing at picking up on your mood and energy, so on the day of your travel try to stay calm and relaxed. Before you leave home, take them for a long walk to exert as much of their energy as possible. This way, they will hopefully sleep throughout the flight – especially as the lights are dimmed in the bay to promote a calm atmosphere.

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