September 6, 2012
Travelling Tips for Pets on Planes, Trains, or Ships
Traveling by ship
With the exception of assistance dogs, only a few cruise lines accept pets—and usually on ocean crossings only. Some lines permit pets in private cabins, but mostly they are confined to kennels. Contact cruise lines in advance to find out their policies and which of their ships have kennel facilities. If you must use the ship's kennel, make sure it is protected from the elements.
Traveling by train
Amtrak currently does not accept pets unless they are assistance dogs. (There may be smaller U.S. railroad companies that permit animals on board.) Many trains in European countries allow pets. Generally, it is the passengers' responsibility to feed and exercise their pets at station stops.
To ensure a smooth trip for you and your pet, follow the guidelines suggested below for traveling by airplane.
Traveling by airplane
The HSUS recommends that you do not transport your pet by air unless absolutely necessary. If your pet must travel in the cargo hold, you can increase the chances of a safe flight for your pet by following these tips.
- Use direct flights. You will avoid the mistakes that occur during airline transfers and possible delays in getting your pet off the plane.
- Always travel on the same flight as your pet. Ask the airline if you can watch your pet being loaded and unloaded into the cargo hold.
- When you board the plane, notify the captain and at least one flight attendant that your pet is traveling in the cargo hold. If the captain knows that pets are on board, he or she may take special precautions.
- Don't ever ship brachycephalic animals such as Pekingese, Bulldogs, or Persian cats in the cargo holds. These breeds have short nasal passages that leave them especially vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke.
- If traveling during the summer or winter months, choose flights that will accommodate the temperature extremes. Early morning or late evening flights are better in the summer; afternoon flights are better in the winter.
- Fit your pet with a collar that can't get caught in carrier doors. Affix two pieces of identification on the collar—a permanent ID with your name and home address and telephone number, and a temporary travel ID with the address and telephone number where you or a contact person can be reached.
- Affix a travel label to the carrier with 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.
- Make sure that your pet's nails have been clipped to protect against their hooking in the carrier's door, holes, and other crevices.
- Give your pet at least a month before your flight to become familiar with the travel carrier. This will minimize his or her stress during travel.
- Do not give your pet tranquilizers unless they are prescribed by your veterinarian. Make sure your veterinarian understands that the prescription is for air travel.
- Do not feed your pet for four to six hours prior to air travel. Small amounts of water can be given before the trip. If possible, put ice cubes in the water tray attached to the inside of your pet's kennel. A full water bowl will only spill and cause discomfort.
- Try not to fly with your pet during busy travel times such as holidays and the summer. Your pet is more likely to undergo rough handling during hectic travel periods.
- Carry a current photograph of your pet. If your pet is lost during the trip, a photograph will make it much easier for airline employees to search effectively.
- When you arrive at your destination, open the carrier as soon as you are in a safe place and examine your pet. If anything seems wrong, take your pet to a veterinarian immediately. Get the results of the examination in writing, including the date and time.