Flying With Fluffy

Posted January 5, 2018

Over two million animals are transported by plane every year and there are government regulations related to the transportation of animals by air. Commercial airlines also have their own policies that people need to take into account when traveling with pets. As a pet owner, there are additional considerations that need to be made to ensure the safety of animals on planes. Traveling by plane can be a stressful and confusing experience for both pet owners and pets, alike. Here are some general rules to follow and some tips to help make the experience as smooth and worry-free as possible.

The first considerations to make are federal regulations. For example, the Federal Animal Welfare Act has various rules that pertain to the transport of pets. Some of those rules include:

  • Dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old and must have been weaned for at least five days. Cages and other shipping containers must meet the minimum standard for size, ventilation, strength, sanitation, and design for safe handling. (Sky kennels furnished by the airlines meet these requirements.)
  • If puppies or kittens less than 16 weeks of age are in transit more than 12 hours, food and water must be provided.
  • Older animals must have food at least every 24 hours and water at least every 12 hours. Written instructions for food and water must accompany all animals shipped regardless of the scheduled time in transit.
  • Animals may not be exposed to temperatures less than 45*F unless they are accompanied by a certificate signed by a veterinarian stating that they are acclimated to lower temperatures. (via transportation.gov )

There are also airline policies to consider. Airlines will generally require a guarantee of the animal’s health, which often means that travelers need to take pets to a licensed veterinarian before flying. The veterinarian will examine the animal and sign a certificate ensuring that the animal is in good health. This requirement can sometimes be waived for service animals, however, it’s always a good idea to have current health records with you. Some airlines allow pets to be shipped with baggage if accompanied, but additional fees often apply. More often, pets are shipped with cargo, but the airline must offer good conditions for the animal. Small animals may also be taken as carry-on luggage if they fit under the seat.

Beyond regulations and policies, there are some choices you can make to ensure safe travel for your pet. The first thing you should do is; plan ahead. You should reserve space for your pet in advance and be familiar with pick up and drop off times. Acclimate your pet to the kennel that they will be in during the flight. The more comfortable the animal is in the kennel, the less stress the animal will experience. Don’t feed your pet solid food at least six hours before flying. However, the animal should have water before the flight.

The rules related to service and emotional support animals are constantly changing, so check the airline’s website before you book your ticket and again before your travel.

OAJ wants to help make flying with your pet as seamless as possible. We are looking forward to flying with you!