What To Know Before Flying Your Pet In A Cargo Hold

When you become a pet owner, you might start to daydream of all the fun things you'll do together. Lazy Sundays on the couch. Taking them for walks around the local park. Introducing them to your friends and family. The possibilities are endless. One other activity you might consider em-bark-ing on with your pet is traveling together. What better way to introduce your furry best friend to the world than with trips to the beach in Miami, going for hikes in the Colorado Rockies, or hitting the slots in Vegas? Though you might want to save that last one for a humans-only trip.

When you travel with your pet, though, there are some considerations you will need to make. Especially if they aren't small enough to fit under the seat in front of you or the airline you'll be flying with doesn't allow pets in the cabin. Flying your pet in a cargo hold can be stressful for both the pet and owner, so you'll have to weigh your options and see what's best for everyone.

Pros and cons of flying with your pet

Traveling with a pet can be a great way to introduce your pet to new sights, smells, adventures, and people. You also might save a bit on pet boarding costs and prevent stressing your pet out by leaving them in a strange place. You yourself may also feel some anxiety leaving your pet with strangers, especially if you've had bad experiences in the past, so this could be a plus, too.

However, you need to be aware of some issues you may face traveling with your pet in a plane's cargo hold. Firstly, it can be a very stressful experience for all involved parties. Your animal can't understand why they're being placed in a crate, taken away from their owner, and put in a strange, noisy place that shakes a lot from time to time. It may also be quite hot or cold, further stressing them out. Brachycephalic (also called snub-nosed) dogs and cats also are not advised to travel in a cargo hold.

But if you're moving across the country or overseas or will be away from home for a while, you may not have a choice. If so, don't worry. There is plenty you can do to ensure your pet makes it safe and sound to your destination.

Preparing your pet to fly in a cargo hold

Before booking your tickets, you'll need to do a little prep work for your pet. First, call the airline you want to fly with and inquire about their rules and policies for traveling with pets. Find out if they can travel in the cabin or if they have to be placed in the cargo hold. The airline may also require your pet to have a mandatory check-up from a veterinarian and need their approval for your pet to fly.

At your appointment, you may want to ask your vet about the appropriate measures you can take to make your animal more comfortable such as administering a light sedative. If you haven't already, you'll also want to crate-train your pet so that they feel comfortable in their travel crate. In addition to a sedative, this will definitely make the experience for your pet as minimally stressful as possible.

Finally, if possible, only travel when the weather permits. Flying in the freezing cold or hottest weeks of summer can be incredibly dangerous for your pet. If you have no choice but to fly during these times, inquire with the airline about what measures they will take to make sure your pet stays healthy and comfortable throughout the trip.