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Preparing Your Dog For Flight

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For countless pet owners, a holiday wouldn't quite be the same without their by their side. Some feel that nobody could take such good care of their pet as they could. For others, travel involves time spent in Nature and they wouldn't feel quite right in the Great Outdoors without inviting their pet to partake in the fun. If you've decided to take your pet along with the whole family on your next trip, keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Ask yourself if travel is really right for your pet: Brachycephalic (or 'flat faced) breeds like pugs, Boston terriers and French/English bulldogs can encounter respiratory problems during air travel. This type of breed might do better skipping the airplane altogether.
  • Make sure your pet's documentation is in order: Find out of any health requirements/certificates/vaccinations your pet will be required to have in the country of your destination. Ask the embassy of the relevant country and be aware that some countries require pets to be quarantined. If you plan in advance, you can usually avoid a quarantine by passing specific tests. Some of these need to be taken months in advance so do the research the moment you even consider taking Kitty or Rex with you on your next trip.
  • Purchase the right travel crate for your pet: Many airlines allow you to travel with small pets in a specific airline carrier which can be stowed under your seat. The first place to consult should be the website of the airline you are travelling with. Some have very specific requirements regarding carriers (for instance, the latter must contain absorbent material, a blanket and dishes for food and water, etc.). Once you have bought the carrier, slowly introduce your pet to it. Leave the door open and place treats or his favorite toy inside, so he grows curious and begins to see the crate as a safe place to hide away and rest.
  • Label your dog's kennel or crate very clearly and make sure they are wearing a collar with your contact details.
  • Make a comprehensive checklist and tick every item on it before you leave home: Items to include are emergency supplies, medications, flea and tick solution, wet wipes, blankets, toys, food, etc. Remember to bring all the documentation which shows your dog or cat complies with any regulations imposed by the country you will be visiting.
  • Make sure you have health insurance sorted out: When travelling, there are two types of insurance you can opt for; one is general health insurance and the other is travel insurance. It really depends on the plans you have for your holiday. If it is going to be an active one on the Great Outdoors and there is some likelihood of injury, a good travel policy will ensure your pet has the medical attention they may need, quickly and inexpensively. You should also do your research into any particular conditions your dog may be exposed to in your destination. Some (warmer) countries in Europe, for instance, have high levels of leishmaniosis, a debilitating condition which affects a dog's organs and can lead to death. Other risks can include heartworm or rabies. Make sure your dog is protected against all potential risks. For instance, when it comes to leishmaniosis, not all flea and tick pipettes will protect your pet. Ask your vet to recommend a treatment that does. The same goes for heartworm: the medication, Milbemax, is one of the few all-round dewormers that also protects against heartworm.
  • Don't let your dog board the plane with a full bladder and stomach: They could feel nauseous or need to empty their bladder sooner than you are able to take them for a walk. Think in advance of ways to make travel time more bearable. Try not to feed them for around four hours before the flight is scheduled. Provide water for them during the flight, but give them just enough so that their thirst is quenched; don't overdo it. If you have a stopover or two, take your dog for a walk outside the airport for as long as you can, to ensure they can exercise, stretch their legs and have enough time to do their necessities.
  • Keep calm and positive: If your pet notices you are stressed, they are likely to have a tension-filled trip themselves as they can be very intuitive to the feelings of their owner. See your trip as a short, necessary and temporary moment that will enable you to create great memories while you're on holiday with the people and pet you love.

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