Planning a move or long vacation and taking your pet with you? Before you book a flight, here are some things you should know:
Make preparations well in advance. Pet travel policies and procedures vary by airline, and not all flights are available to pets. Some airlines do not accept animals. Some airlines will not accept certain pets, such as pit bulls.
If you are traveling with your pet, the pet cannot travel in the cabin unless the kennel is small enough to fit underneath the seat. Check with the airline first. Larger or unaccompanied pets travel in cargo.
All crates and kennels must be airline-approved and feature proper labeling, ventilation and size (enough space for the animal to stand, sit and turn around). Check the kennel screws. Put an empty food and water dish inside, and a soft, absorbent blanket or towel on the bottom.
Don't use choke chains or toys a pet can eat.
If you are taking the pet to the airport, allow yourself plenty of extra time. If the airline recommends arriving an hour before flight, arrive 90 minutes in advance.
Do NOT tranquilize your animal before a flight. Do give them water and lots of exercise right before leaving. Give them a light meal no more than four hours before the flight.
Heat especially in the summer is life-threatening to animals. Airlines may not let a pet travel if they cannot ensure its safety. Don't book your pet on a midday or afternoon flight during the summer. Nighttime or early morning and nonstop flights are best.
If you are flying on vacation, leave your pet at home or at a reputable boarding facility, if possible. Animals are most comfortable at home. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a kennel.
For more information about pet-travel regulations, log onto www.airlines.org/ (Air Transport Assn.) or call (202) 626-4000.
For information or to find a professional pet transporter, log onto www.ipata.com/ (Independent Pet and Animal Transport Assn.).