FAQs: Airline Travel with Pets

Thinking about bringing your fur kids along when you visit family and friends over the holidays?  If your holiday travel will involve an airline flight, it’s never too early to start planning for a smooth trip for both yourself and your pet.  What do you need to know to book a pet on a flight?  Make sure you check the specific pet policies of each airline you are considering, and be sure to book early, as many airlines reserve a limited number of spots for pets in the cabin (or cargo) section.

What else do you need to know to make flying with dogs, cats, and other pets as stress-free as possible?  Here are some answers to a few frequently asked questions…but always remember to check with your airline for definitive information!

Are there government regulations for pet airline travel?

Yes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service maintains a website with valuable information on both domestic and international travel with pets.  They also provide a heads-up on which animals actually qualify as “pets.”  Be sure to check the USDA site if you have an exotic companion animal!

How can I compare airline pet policies?

The pet-friendly travel website Bring Fido has a web page that lists most major U.S. and international airline pet policies.  From Aer Lingus to Turkish Airlines, you can easily click between sites to find the perfect pet policy for your needs.

Do I need to see the vet before I fly with my pet?

According to American Veterinary Medical Association, most airlines require a current Certificate of Veterinary Inspection for your pet to travel.  Your vet will certify that your pet is healthy enough for travel, and that it has no diseases that could be passed on to humans or other animals.  Certain vaccines need to be up-to-date before your pet can travel.  Don’t forget that international pet travel health requirements can be more stringent than domestic ones, and your pet may have to go into quarantine upon arrival.  This applies to Hawaii as well.

Is it safe for my pet to fly in cargo?

Many concerned pet owners have heard scary stories about pets’ health being harmed by flying in cargo.  A recent article in Conde Nast Traveler cites a U.S. Department of Transportation report on statistics for pet cargo travel in 2016.  Out of approximately 500,000 pets that flew cargo, 26 died and 24 were injured.  That’s about a 1 per 10,000 pet incident rate.  United and Hawaiian have the highest incident rates.  Flying with your pet in the cabin with you is safer than putting your pet in cargo, but that is only an option for smaller pets.  Large dogs must fly cargo unless they are service animals.  Many experts suggest avoiding placing your pet in cargo unless it is absolutely necessary, such as for a cross-country move.

What kind of pet carrier should I get for airline travel?

Each airline’s pet policy page will have specific dimensions for under-the-seat pet carriers.  Generally, they allow hard or soft carriers, as long as they fit under the seat in front of you.  Remember, you cannot remove your pet from the crate during flight, so the carrier must be large enough to keep your pet comfortable.  Some pet stores sell carriers specifically designed for airline travel.  The carrier company Sherpa Pet works with American and Delta, so you can get carriers specifically designed for those airlines.

Happy travels!

 

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FACE Friend Linda Michaels Publishes “Do No Harm™ Dog Training and Behavior Manual”

A few months ago, we introduced you to FACE friend and supporter Linda Michaels of Del Mar Dog Training in a blog post.  Linda is a top-rated dog trainer and behavior expert who created the Hierarchy of Dog Needs® approach to force-free behavior modification.  Linda has expanded the ideas she outlined in the Hierarchy into a brand-new eBook called the Do No Harm™ Dog Training and Behavior Manual.  The manual is a great resource for anyone interested in learning about force-free solutions for common dog behavior problems (pet parents, trainers, animal welfare workers and volunteers, groomers, and more).  The book is available for purchase in pdf format HERE.

The manual covers both basic obedience and more advanced behavior issues like aggression and separation anxiety.  Topics covered include advice on finding the right dog for your family and lifestyle, as well as step-by-step training how-tos for many key behavior areas, such as:

  • Housetraining
  • Socialization to people and other dogs
  • Dog safety and body language
  • Good manners and impulse control
  • New puppy training
  • How to avoid “treat dependence”
  • Teaching the basic commands
  • Protocols for dealing with serious behavior problems

Linda has an MA in Experimental Psychology and has worked not only with dogs, but also wolves and wolfdog hybrids in need of treatment for aggression.  The foundation of her approach is to avoid the use of harsh, dominance-based training methods and aversive collar devices (shock, prong, choke).  Linda believes that these methods are often counter-productive and can in fact increase aggression in dogs.

The Hierarchy of Dog Needs® concept is based on the idea that dogs (just like people) have fundamental needs that should be met both in the training process and throughout their lives.  Besides basic physical needs like food and shelter, dogs also need to feel safe, secure, and loved.  Linda’s training methods take these important emotional needs into account, leading to optimal results.

As Linda notes, traditional dominance training methods and devices can inflict irreversible psychological damage on our dogs.  “This manual was written for ‘the heartbeats at our feet’ with their well-being and best force-free care and training practices in mind,” says Linda.  “We no longer leave the door open for any justification to use aversive/punitive methods of training with dogs.”  The key to effective training is the proper use of force-free methods…now easier than ever thanks to Linda’s contributions to the field!

 

4th of July Pet Safety Tips

The July 4th holiday is coming soon!  Are you prepared to keep your patriotic pets healthy and happy while you celebrate with backyard barbecues and fireworks displays?  Here’s a great infographic with some key reminders to help keep your dogs and cats safe during the 4th of July…and all summer long.  There’s still time to talk to your vet about microchipping and ways to relieve your pet’s anxiety before the fireworks start!

 

Apps Help People Reunite With Lost Pets

Few things are more distressing to pet owners than losing a dog, cat, or other beloved pet.  Unfortunately, pets go missing all the time, and the statistics show that un-microchipped animals that get brought to shelters only have around a 20% chance of being reunited with their families.

The internet has made it much easier to share information about lost and found pets than ever before.  Besides social media, which can be a great lost pet resource, more and more people are also turning to lost pet apps.  Here are a few of the most popular ones to check out:

Fur Alert:  The Fur Alert app is promoted as a kind of Amber Alert for missing pets.  Before your pet ever goes missing, you can download the app and create a profile for your pet.  If your pet does get lost, you can activate a missing pet report that will send an alert to other users in your vicinity.  You can also be a hero and help other people find their lost pets with the app.

Finding Rover:  The Finding Rover app uses facial recognition technology to help find lost pets.  You just take a picture of your dog, mark the eyes and nose, and they will keep your dog’s info on file in case he ever gets lost.  If your dog does go missing, Finding Rover will alert a large network of shelters, vets, fellow members, and other organizations to help you find your pet.

Paw Boost:  Paw Boost also helps users find lost pets via their app.  They have a variety of free tools that enable you to spread the word about your lost pet.  Notifications go out to shelters, vets, other members, and Facebook.  You can even use it to create a quality missing pet flyer to post around your community.

ASPCA Mobile App:  The ASPCA offers a free app that not only helps you find your lost pet by offering a personalized pet recovery kit and a digital flyer tool, they also let you store health record data on your pet and provide advice on how to keep animals safe before, during, and after a natural disaster.

PIP:  Similar to Finding Rover, the PIP app uses facial recognition technology to help people find missing dogs and cats.  The app analyzes photos of lost and found pets to find identifying features and make a match.  They also alert a network of shelters, vets, social media, and other users to help you find your missing pet.

 

Ohio State University’s Indoor Pet Initiative Advocates for Your Pet’s Well-Being

Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine has a great program called the Indoor Pet Initiative, which was created to enhance the health and welfare of our companion animals so that our pets can enjoy optimal well-being and thrive in a safe indoor environment.

As a non-profit that assists pet owners with emergency veterinary care, we have seen many sad cases in which cats and dogs allowed to roam outdoors have experienced life-threatening injuries from incidents like being hit by a car or being attacked by another animal.

The Indoor Pet Initiative provides a ton of information for both veterinarians and pet owners to ensure that our dogs and cats live long, healthy, and happy lives. What kind of information? Cat owners can learn about how to enrich the environments of indoor cats, as well as gain a greater understanding of what makes our cats tick. You can learn about how to solve common behavioral problems and identify stressors in your cat’s environment. They also have great information on the importance of microchipping your cat. Cat information is also available in Spanish!

For dog owners, you can check the website for lots of information on how to care for your dog from puppyhood to old age, including environmental enrichment techniques. Whether you have questions about crate training your puppy, introducing your dog to a new baby, or understanding your dog’s cognitive changes as she ages, you’ll find answers here.

Remember, along with spay/neuter, keeping your pet safely indoors is one of the most important things you can do to reduce the number of homeless animals in your community and improve your own pet’s quality of life.