Flying with your pet

Going on a far away expedition and need to bring Fluffy with you? While some airlines allow small dogs and cats to fly in the cabin, unfortunately in Australia, unless you have a service dog, pets must travel down under. Flying can be quite a stressful event for a cat or dog, if you're just jetting off for a weekend away, it might be best to leave your pet with a close friend for a few nights instead. However if flying your pets is inevitable, we've prepared some tips to make your life easier and Fluffy's trip more enjoyable.

What to do before the day

Before you even get anywhere near the airport, it's wise to visit your vet to ensure your pet is healthy enough to travel. Brachycephalic breed with short snouts (like Pugs or Burmese) are prone to respiratory complications and are consequently banned from some airlines. Depending on where you are travelling to, your pet will need to have received certain vaccinations and parasite preventions. For example, if you are travelling to Tasmania, your pet will need to be covered from Hypatid Tapeworm while for bush bashing holidays, you'll want to make sure your pet is covered from fleas and ticks. For more information on which treatment you need, see Which Flea and Worming Product do I need?

It's recommended to not feed your pet eight hours before flying as anxiety can cause symptoms such as vomiting and even diarrhoea. If you're flying your dog, make sure they get a hearty exercise the day before and a light exercise on the day to help them relax.

Directly before the flight

In flight dehydration is very common so make sure your pet gets a drink beforehand and goes to the toilet. Some airlines do not allow free standing water bowls as they are easily spilled and may cause your pet discomfort during the trip. A water bottle with the spout and ball bearing design fixed to the outside of their crate is best.

Carriers must be lined with an absorbent material prior to boarding in the event of any accidents. Puppy pads are recommended over newspaper with their superior absorption to soak up spills quickly.

In-flight additions

Avoid clothing your pooch for the flight as they can struggle to regulate their body temperature in warm weather. Include instead a soft blanket for extra padding and warmth if needed. For dogs, avoid in flight treats like bones, pigs ears or rawhide. Once small enough, some dogs will try to swallow these whole which can present a significant choking hazard.

As a comfort, it's good to include one of their favourite toys, just make sure you've tested it's durability prior. If your dog is a persistent chewer, a poor quality toy can turn into a choking hazard.

Lastly if you are concerned your pet will be anxious during the flight, an unwashed top with your scent can be a great comfort tool. Alternatively you can also look at using an anxiety aid such as an Adaptil collar for dogs or the Feliway Spray for cats. Both these products emit synthetic pheromones that mimic natural pheromones from the species that mothers use to comfort their young. It's best to get your pet used to the product's effect prior to using them as an anxiety relief.

The most important things to remember?

  • Make sure that nothing in your pet's crate can become a choking hazard.
  • Visit your vet before flying and make sure your pet is travel ready.
  • Stay calm. If your pet sees you fretting, it will only make them more anxious.
  • Encourage your pet to drink before and especially after the flight.

Posted by Jessica Varley

Owner of a small Chihuahua army and lover of all things pets; when Jess isn't managing her pup Nacho's instagram you can find her writing about all the awesome new products on the Pet Circle website!

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