Does your dog have a valid passport? Will your airline approve your pet carrier? Owners traveling with their dogs have plenty of homework to do before takeoff. Here’s what you need to know:
Book pet-flights by phone, directly with your airline—not online. Many carriers restrict cargo travel for pets during winter months, when outside temperatures dip. Your pet’s weight and age matter; and travel-carriers must meet airline specifications (which vary). Be prepared to certify your pets’ vaccinations are up-to-date with a document issued no more than ten days pre-flight and signed by your vet.
Airport security will never subject a pet to x-ray screening at checkpoints, so do have a leash on-hand at the airport. You’ll need to hold your pet and put your carrier through the x-ray scanner with all carry-on baggage.
For international flights, contact the USDA’s Veterinary Services Office, located in Richmond at 400 North 8th St. 23219-4824, (804) 343-2560 to confirm medical information for your Pet Passport. Also, check the State Department website for nation-specific entry requirements. Be sure to label your dog’s crate including destination address, contact info, feeding instructions, and vet phone, in case of emergency. Most airlines strongly discourage sedating pets pre-flight because medications can cause unexpected side-effects at high-altitudes. Bottom line: If flying with pets seems complicated, DogServices will keep your dog happy and healthy while you travel this Thanksgiving.
For Car Trips
Make sure your cell phone number is printed on your dog’s identification tags since you won’t be reachable at home. Pack a dog-friendly travel kit including leash, chew toys, waste pickup bags, treats, and portable water bowl. If your dog doesn’t travel in a crate, get a harness for the car. An unrestrained dog becomes a projectile in an accident or sudden stop, which is dangerous for both of you. Allow your dog plenty of exercise time before you hit the highway, avoid feeding 4-6 hours before departure, and plan a rest stop every 2 to 3 hours. Never feed your dog in a moving vehicle and ask your vet to suggest a motion-sickness medication and appropriate dosage for your dog, just in case.
When You Arrive
When your dog enters an unfamiliar environment, he’ll need reassurance that you’re in charge and he is safe. Don’t be surprised if your dog growls at strangers at first. Instead of scolding or correcting behavior, offer a comforting pat to let your dog know that everything’s okay, even if things look new and different.