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Flying with Fido.

Traveling with your pet needn't be traumatic

AIR TRAVEL CAN BE STRESSFUL for pets, especially in spring and summer when cargo-hold temperatures can rise dramatically, making pets inside uncomfortable. If you're planning to send Fido flying during the coming months, here are some ways to help prepare him, and yourself, for the trip.


All big commercial jets have pressurized cargo holds, but they don't all have ventilation systems. Ask your airline what model of aircraft it plans to fly on your anticipated route, and whether it's equipped to take pets.

Plan ahead. Your pet should be at least 8 weeks old and fully weaned. All airlines require a recent health certificate (10 to 30 days before the trip, depending on the carrier) from a veterinarian. Certain animals just don't fly well; pug-nosed dogs, for example, may have trouble breathing.

To ship a pet as cargo, buy a kennel large enough to allow your pet to stand up, lie down, and turn freely. Buy the kennel in advance at an airline ticket counter, or buy it at a pet shop--but make sure the kennel is airline approved. Put your pet in the kennel several times over a period of weeks to get it used to the space; throw in a favorite toy. Be sure to have your address and the pet's name on its collar, and write them on the outside of the kennel.

Booking the flight. You need to reserve and confirm cargo space for a kennel well in advance. It's best to book direct, nonstop, and off-peak-hour flights, which are less likely to be delayed. Try timing the trip for periods when outside airport temperatures at both ends of your trip are above 40|degrees~ and below 80|degrees~. As a rule of thumb, morning flights are best.

You can ship your pet as cargo (cost is based on weight or kennel size) or as excess baggage (the less expensive designation, but available only if you're traveling on the same flight). Some airlines allow a small kenneled pet to travel under your seat; call the airline for cost and details.

The trip. The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that animals be given food and water within 4 hours of check-in, but don't feed your pet right before flying. For obvious reasons, you should line the bottom of the kennel with absorbent material. And since airlines are not required to feed or water pets, put in dishes of ice--your pet can lick it as it thaws.

Arrive at the airport 2 hours ahead of departure time. In general, pets are hand-carried to the cargo area and placed on the plane last. (Conversely, they are unloaded ahead of other cargo.) A free brochure provided by the USDA, Air Travel for Your Dog or Cat, advises against sedating your pet, since the effects of tranquilizers at high altitudes are unpredictable. Indeed, airline officials note a high correlation between pet air-travel deaths and sedation.

For your free brochure, write to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Care, Room 565, Federal Building, 6505 Belcrest Rd., Hyattsville, Md. 20782. For a detailed booklet, Traveling with Your Pet ($5), call the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at (212) 876-7700, ext. 4400.
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Title Annotation:traveling with a pet
Author:Finnegan, Lora J.
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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