Around Australia every day hundreds of pets are taking flight, accompanying families on holidays, or jetting off to a new home. So, if your pet is about to become a high-flyer, what do you need to know?
Before booking your flight, check that your pet is eligible to fly. Cats and dogs are usually the only types of pets allowed to travel. However, some cats and dogs are excluded from flying because of a predisposition to aggressive behaviour, while some breeds, such as Persian cats, Pugs and Bulldogs, aren’t allowed to fly because of their susceptibility to breathing difficulties.
Some airlines restrict the number of pets on a single flight, while other planes aren’t set up to take pets at all, so book early if you plan to take your pet with you. Check with your airline on the cost of pet travel as this can vary greatly – some airlines won’t charge at all as the pet is considered part of the checked luggage allowance, while others charge more than $100 per pet.
Your pet must be more than eight weeks old, show no signs of aggression and be in good health. If you’ve checked with the airline, and got the all-clear, make an appointment with your vet, to give your pet the once over. Make sure all vaccinations, worming and fleas treatments are up to date. And get a certificate from your vet so you can show the airline staff that you are ready to take to the skies.
An airline won’t take a sedated pet, so if your animal is prone to anxiety, ask your vet about natural remedies to treat this.
You will need an appropriate container, crate or carrier for your pet. Plastic or steel mesh containers are acceptable on Australian domestic flights. When buying a crate, take your pet along as the container will need to be big enough for your furry friend to stand up in, turn around and lie down comfortably.
Buy the crate in advance of the flight, so your pet can have a sniff around and get used to it. Include his favourite toy or blanket for the flight. And look out for one with a secure drinking container attached. It’s even worth going for a few trips in the car with your pet in the crate so he can get used to it before the flight.
On the day of travel, don’t feed your pet, but offer him plenty of water. It’s worth having a play with him before heading to the airport so he is relaxed – though don’t exercise him so hard that he’ll be thirsty for the trip. Make sure you take his vaccination certificate and ensure he is wearing his collar and ID. In your checked luggage, take his lead and a decent pair of scissors – your airline might use cable ties to secure the container door, and you will want to be able to let your pet out as soon as you can. Also take an old towel in case you need to clean up any spills in the container. Once you’ve landed and collected him from the cargo area, give him a big drink, a dog treat and let him walk around the airport carpark before popping him in the car to reach your final destination.