“Let me be straight with you. What I'd rather have is an airplane. We just had a third kid. I don't like flying commercial. I like to take my family to Hawaii. When I go east, I'd like to have pilots I know. ”
Flying with your pet? You should start preparing for your trip well in advance to make sure it will be as snarl-free as possible, according to Alison Abramson Hasson, a veterinarian based in New York City and Westchester.
Many countries require the rabies vaccine to be given at least one month but no more than a year before your trip. Ignoring such rules could delay your departure, so find out your destination country’s requirements well in advance.
For the most up-to-date data on traveling with pets to a particular country, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/regulations/vs/iregs/animals. Regularly updated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this Web page includes information for most species of animals and lists every country’s requirements regarding vaccines, microchips and more.
If you live in the U.S., your paperwork likely needs to be signed by a veterinarian accredited by the Department of Agriculture and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. A vet who lacks such accreditation can probably send the paperwork out to be signed, but you will need to allow time for that.
Ask your veterinarian for help interpreting and meeting requirements. If you regularly travel with your pet to a particular country, ask the vet whether the animal is eligible for a pet passport (yes, there is such a thing), which will allow it to cross international borders more easily.
If you anticipate your pet being an anxious traveler, you may want to consider prescription sedatives or tranquilizers. If you do, test out the medication well before your trip, to make sure your pet responds favorably to it.
Another way to put your pet at ease is to familiarize him with the sights, smells and noises associated with cars and airports. Dogs and cats are creatures of habit, so if they have been exposed to things like car trips and airplane engines, takeoff should be a cinch. Since dog and cat ears have similar structures to those of humans, it’s likely that they sometimes experience the same discomfort that humans do while flying. To minimize discomfort from changes in pressure, especially during takeoff and landing, offer your pet a small amount of food or water to cause him to swallow.
Hasson encourages pet owners to have a microchip implanted under the animal’s skin so it can be readily identified should it become lost. Microchips are the first way veterinary hospitals and shelters attempt to identify lost pets. Several companies manufacture the chips, including 24 Pet Watch (www.24petwatch.com) and Home Again (www.homeagain.com).
If you’ll be staying in a hotel, call ahead to make sure it allows pets. Typically, you’ll be required to leave a deposit upon arrival to cover any damages. On a more positive note, some hotels offer amenities for pets, which could allow you to shorten your packing list. The Hotel Marlowe in Boston, for example,provides a Pampered Pet Package, with beds, blankets and treats.
Packing for Pets–A Checklist
Veterinarian Alison Abramson Hasson suggests this packing list for pet owners:
• Up-to-date, signed travel certificates and other paperwork
• Address and phone number of veterinarian/veterinary hospital in destination city or country
• Secure carrier approved for air travel (likely not required on a private jet, but can provide added comfort to animals and humans alike)
• Label to place on carrier that includes contact and microchip information and destination
• Collar with ID tags and leash
• Collapsible travel bowl
• Food (especially if your pet needs a kind that may not be available at your destination)
• Bottled water
• Medications (always bring more than you anticipate needing), including monthly preventives (e.g. for heart-worm, fleas and ticks)
• Lint remover
• Alcohol-free baby wipes
• Waste-removal bags
• Absorbent pads or cat litter
A Nanny for the Jet-Set Pet
You can leave en route animal care to a pro like Carol Martin, a corporate flight attendant and “top dog” at Bend, Ore.-based Sit ’n Stay Global, which provides flight attendant/pet nannies for business jet travelers. “I’m all about keeping pets safe on airplanes,” Martin said. The company’s flight attendants are trained in animal emergency care and their equipment includes harnesses for securing pets comfortably, canine flotation gear and veterinary oxygen masks. Even if you don’t bring a pet nanny along, you can probably hire one to provide services like the ones Martin offers her clients after they arrive at their destinations. With an iPad full of pet-oriented apps, she organizes a day of walks and play in pet-friendly places with her charge, and sends iPhone photos of the gamboling pet to the owner. “At the end of the day, you come back and settle in with the tired dog or cat and relax,” Martin said. “That’s priceless when you’re on the road.”