The Truth About Flying with Pets: Safety Precautions to Consider

Flying with pets may seem like a dream come true for many pet owners. The idea of taking your furry companion on an adventure is undoubtedly tempting, but is it really worth the risk?

Recent incidents and expert opinions suggest that flying with pets may not be as safe or enjoyable as it appears.

Flying with pets can be stressful for animals.

Photo: Pexels
Flying with pets can be stressful for animals.

The Dark Side of Flying with Pets

Stress and Tragedy in the Skies

Air travel can be incredibly stressful for animals, reports Pets that Travel. Picture your innocent dog or cat crammed into a kennel for hours, subjected to engine noise, air pressure changes, and unfamiliar surroundings. This can lead to severe stress and anxiety for your beloved pets, and sometimes, the journey ends tragically.

In recent years, there has been a surge in incidents involving pets during flights. Domestic airlines transported over 188,000 animals in one year, and sadly, seven of them didn’t make it, USA Today reports. These deaths were entirely preventable.

Engine noise, air pressure changes, and unfamiliar surroundings can cause anxiety in pets.

Photo: Pexels
Engine noise, air pressure changes, and unfamiliar surroundings can cause anxiety in pets.

An Unpleasant Experience for Passengers

It’s not just the pets that suffer; passengers can also experience discomfort when animals are onboard, NPR reports. Imagine trying to relax on a flight with an allergic reaction or the constant barking of a dog nearby. These scenarios can make air travel a nightmare for passengers.

Dave Dzurick, a retired broadcast engineer, recently shared with The Seattle Times his experience of enduring a howling cat during a flight. He’s not alone; many passengers have been in similar situations, and it’s far from pleasant.

In one year, domestic airlines transported over 188,000 animals, but seven died.

Photo: Pexels
In one year, domestic airlines transported over 188,000 animals, but seven died.

Why Flying Isn’t Pet-Friendly

Disrupting Their Routine

Dogs and cats are creatures of habit, and travel disrupts their routines. Some contend that many pets simply aren’t fit to fly, whether due to their size, age, or temperament. Traveling can stress them out, and the destinations they’re allowed to visit are often limited.

The Responsibilities of Pet Owners

It’s not just pets that require preparation for air travel; pet owners must also take on extra responsibilities. Ensuring you have the right carrying case, vaccinations, identification, and microchips for your pet is essential, Pets That Travel reports. Additionally, researching pet-friendly accommodations, transportation, and activities at your destination is crucial.

Sadly, many pet owners fail to adequately prepare, leaving their pets in hotel rooms while they explore, which can irritate the animals and lead to unbearable return flights. As Fly & Dine reports, there are several ways you can plan ahead and improve the experience for your pet.

Dogs and cats are creatures of habit, and travel disrupts their routines.

Photo: Pexels
Dogs and cats are creatures of habit, and travel disrupts their routines.

When Should Pets Fly?

Exceptions to the Rule

While flying with pets is generally discouraged, there are exceptions. Service dogs, essential for passengers with disabilities, are trained to handle the challenges of flying. Recent regulations have helped curb the issue of fake therapy animals, The Washington Post reports.

There are pet owners with well-behaved dogs or cats who can share a vacation, typically on driving trips where frequent breaks are possible. However, even these journeys require extensive planning and preparation.

Some breeds with respiratory vulnerabilities should not fly due to the risk of suffocation.

Photo: Pexels
Some breeds with respiratory vulnerabilities should not fly due to the risk of suffocation.

Putting Safety First: Adding Your Pet to the “No Fly” List

Considering the stress and potential dangers involved in flying with pets, some experts suggest it might be best to leave them at home. Despite the rising popularity of pet travel, it’s essential to prioritize their safety and well-being.

A significant number of Americans plan to travel with their pets and prefer their company over friends or family, Pew Research Center reports. However, it’s crucial to remember that pets are not people. Dogs and cats do not request to fly; they are content in their familiar environments.

The Importance of Preparation

Traveling with pets isn’t as simple as packing a bag and heading to the airport. It requires meticulous planning, extra care, and thorough research. If you’re considering taking your pet on a trip, be prepared to put in the effort.

Avoid flying during hot summer months due to temperature risks.

Photo: Pexels
Avoid flying during hot summer months due to temperature risks.

Keeping Your Pet Safe When Flying

To ensure your pet’s safety during air travel, consider the following precautions:

  • Consult Your Veterinarian: Before flying, visit your veterinarian to ensure your pet is fit for the journey.
  • Avoid Hot Months: Refrain from flying with your pet during the hot summer months when extreme temperatures can pose a risk.
  • Choose Direct Flights: Whenever possible, opt for direct flights to minimize the chances of delays and mishaps during layovers.
  • In-Cabin Travel: Depending on your pet’s size, explore the option of having them travel in the passenger cabin with you.
  • Baggage Hold: If your pet must travel in the cargo hold, remind airline staff and baggage handlers about the live animal on board, and ensure proper ventilation and access to water.
  • Beware of Brachycephalic Breeds: Some breeds with respiratory vulnerabilities should not fly due to the risk of suffocation.
  • Leave Them at Home: If you’ll be returning soon, consider leaving your pet at home in trusted hands for a happy reunion.
Consult a veterinarian before flying with your pet.

Photo: Pexels
Consult a veterinarian before flying with your pet.

While flying with pets may seem appealing, it’s essential to prioritize their safety and well-being. Air travel can be stressful and dangerous for animals, and it often requires significant preparation and research on the part of pet owners.

Before embarking on your next journey, consider the potential risks and take the necessary precautions to keep your furry friends safe and happy. Make the commitment to take proper safety precautions when flying with a pet. Click below and sign the pledge!

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, spending time with his daughters, and coffee.
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