The One Thing You Need to Do Before Flying With Your Pet

This simple step could get your pet the extra attention it craves before takeoff.

A passengers pet travelling in its carrier is loaded into an airliners cargo compartment.
Photo: Mike Clarke/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Traveling with your pet can be a totally rewarding experience. Being able to see a new place with your furry best friend seems like a dream, but there are a few things to consider before hopping on a long-haul flight with Fido or Fluffy.

As Travel + Leisure previously explained, there can be quite a few hidden costs when it comes to traveling with a pet, including a pre-travel vet visit, a microchip, and airline and hotel fees. But more than anything, there’s also the potential health cost to your four-legged friend.

The Humane Society advises against checking your pet into the cargo hold of an airplane unless absolutely necessary. As it says on its site, “The HSUS recommends that you weigh all the risks when deciding whether to transport your pet by airplane. Air travel can be particularly dangerous for animals with ‘pushed in’ faces (the medical term is ‘brachycephalic’), such as bulldogs, pugs and Persian cats. Their short nasal passages leave them especially vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke.”

However, if traveling with your best bud in cargo is the only way, the Humane Society does offer a few suggestions to ensuring a safe journey, including only flying on direct flights to avoid any possible baggage mistakes, traveling on the same flight as your pet, avoid traveling with an animal during extreme temperatures such as in summer and winter, training your pet to be comfortable with a carrier and, its simplest but perhaps most important piece of advice: “affix a travel label to the carrier on which you've written your name, permanent address and telephone number, final destination, and where you or a contact person can be reached as soon as the flight arrives.”

But it's not just your information you should write on the label — it's important to write your pet's name as well. This will help airline staff calm your animal down while boarding the flight.

“If you checked your dog there's about a 30 percent chance it's terrified before it even gets on the plane, who knows how scared it gets during the actual flight,” Redditor RabbitMix said in a thread about airport secrets. “Bag room agents will usually try to comfort a scared animal, but all we can really do is talk to it, so if you write your pet's name on their carrier it usually helps a lot.”

Once you and your pet are reunited after the flight, make sure to provide it with plenty of food, water, and love to help it calm down. If anything seems even the slightest bit off, take it to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Otherwise, enjoy your travels with your furball in tow.

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