Travel With Your Pet
Today pets can travel by air, rail, road or sea. Each form of travel presents it own unique set of problems. In order to smooth the way it may be helpful to consider the following points.
An increasing number of pets travel on internal flights today and although International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations regarding carrier size and conditions do not apply to domestic flights it is worthwhile considering these since they apply to all international flights. Remember with air travel the container will be your pet’s home for the length of the flight and also for an appreciable time prior to and after the flight after you have checked in and until he is collected after the flight.
1. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around freely. The IATA recommendations are that the height should be the height of the pet to the top of the head in a normal standing position. The length should be the length of the pet from the nose to the root of the tail plus half the length measured from the floor to the elbow. This is in order to ensure that he can lie down with his nose resting on his forelegs and his front feet protruding beyond the tip of his nose. The width of the container should be twice the width of the dog measured at the shoulders.
2. The carrier can be constructed of fibreglass, metal, rigid plastic, wickerwork, weldmesh, solid wood or plywood.
3. Ventilation must be adequate and usually involves a wire mesh front on one side or end of the container with ventilation holes over the whole of the opposite side and the upper third of the other two sides. Projecting handles which also act as spacers must be provided. These are essential for transportation of the crate and also ensure that air flow is maintained when the container is loaded into the aircraft which may have a fairly full hold.
4. Containers must be nose and paw proof, i.e. the ventilation apertures must be of such a size that it is impossible for the animal to protrude nose or paws outside the container. Fixed food and water containers must be provided and these must be accessible from the outside.
On many internal flights (and some international ones) small dogs and catss may be carried in the passenger cabin in underseat containers. If allowed, the total weight of the dog plus the container must not exceed 4 kg.
It is useful to use several thicknesses of newspaper plus an acrylic dog bed. A familiar article in the container helps to calm the animal.
Suitable carriers can be obtained from pet stores, breeders, kennels and often the airlines themselves. It is always worthwhile checking with the airline regarding their particular requirements.
Other useful tips
Tranquillisation of the dog before loading in the carrier may be recommended and is best discussed with your Vet. It is a good idea to try to familiarise your dog with the travel container before the trip is undertaken. Feeding him in the container, first with the door closed and then open helps to eliminate some of the apprehension that may be felt during the actual trip.
Animals travelling in cars should be under control in vehicles and unable to distract you while you are driving. A crate or cage can be used, the dimensions of which should be comfortable for the animal. If dog s are not so separated from you they should be tethered so that he cannot act as a distraction. The easiest way of doing this is place him in the footwell in the back of the car, shutting the lead, attached to a properly adjusted collar, in the car door. Alternatively a seat belt harness may be used
Travel, or more correctly motion sickness, is a condition which affects many dogs and sometimes cats. It is due to the effect of the motion on the organs of balance located in the inner ear. Signs are usually excessive salivation, restlessness or excitement. Consult your Veterinary surgeon since there are several prescription only medicines that are extremely effective for this condition. Excitable pets can be tranquillised but make sure you experiment beforehand so you do not give too much and have the animal off his legs for a while since the dose depends largely on the temperament and amount of excitement.
Remember that even the most well behaved pet can take fright at the sight and noise associated with a railway station and trains. Make sure that dogs collars and leads are strong and correctly adjusted.
Today different State railways have varying conditions regarding the transport of pets and therefore you should enquire prior to your trip.
Many ships and ferries today have permanent kennels into which your pet must be placed for the duration of the trip. Again the provision of a familiar blanket or toy helps to ease the tension. Mild tranquillisation is possible since you can visit the pet during the trip and ascertain its effect.
Hints on Travel with your pet
- 1. If you are going to stay in an hotel, ascertain beforehand that the hotel allows pets. There are publications available that list such hotels and boarding houses.
- 2. Make sure the pet wears a correctly adjusted collar and not a check chain. The collar should bear an identification tag with your name, address and telephone number. Your pets microchip details should be up to date
- 3. If he is travelling unaccompanied, check that his name appears on the container together with your name, address, telephone number and any other relevant details, e.g. where you are collecting him from and whether you wish to be telephoned first etc.
- 4. Remember that most hotels and boarding houses will not allow pets in the public rooms, therefore if you leave dogs unattended in your room make sure there is no opportunity for escape and realise that you will be responsible for any damage caused. Again if practicable, i.e. size, a travelling cage or container is ideal. Even if the dog is extremely well behaved make sure that you place “Do Not Disturb” notices on the door if the dog is left unattended. In this way the possibility of confrontation with staff and escape is minimised.
- 5. Should your pet get lost, contact the local police, RSPCA, local council dog pound and Veterinary surgeries.
- 6. Remember that advance planning is vital to make the trip an enjoyable experience for both you and your pet.