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Choosing the Right Carrier for Air Travel

All the travel arrangements have been made, but now you have to find the right carrier so your furry friend can travel with you. But with so many options out there, how do you know which carrier is the right one for your pet? Not to fear. By answering a few questions and doing a little research, you'll soon have a carrier that is the perfect fit for your four-legged travel companion.

The very first thing you need to do is decide if your pet will be traveling as a carry-on or as a checked item. It may seem cold to refer to your pet as "checked baggage", but if it's a dog traveling with you and it's a large dog, he will not be able to ride with you in the cabin of the plane. Once you know where your extended family member will be riding, you should look up the specific kennel requirements for your airline. Most airlines have the similar requirements, but it's always better to cover all bases.

Usually, if your pet is traveling as a carry-on (in the cabin with you), you can use either a hard, plastic carrier or a soft, cloth carrier. The only condition here is that the carrier must meet the same requirements as any other carry-on item. If he/she is riding as a checked item, then the carrier must be made of hard plastic. Note that international flights require heavy duty plastic carriers, like the Petmate Sky Kennel. In both cases, the carrier must be large enough for the pet to stand up and turn around in. This makes sense, of course. We certainly wouldn't want to fly (whether it be for one hour or five) in a space that we can't even stand up in, and we wouldn't want our furry babies to travel uncomfortably either. The carrier must also have ventilation on at least two sides. While the selection in the past has been relatively small, now there is an impressive range of pet-friendly air carriers.

Once you have the basics down, you can consider other options that may make your pet's travel experience more pleasurable, depending on his/her personality. If your pet stresses out easily around other people or loud noises, then you may want to look into a carrier with shades. These dark add-ons go over the ventilation areas on the carrier. Only your pet's view of the outside will be obscured, not their access to fresh, circulating air. Blocking off the sights of what's going on outside can help him/her remain more calm during your travels.

You may also have a desire to give your furry friend a blanket or some other comforting item to snuggle with. This is okay as long as the item isn't so large that it conceals the pet. Air officials have to be able to see the pet at any given time without placing their hands within the carrier. If you want to give your pet a little extra cushion on the bottom of the carrier, consider a cloth covered pad. This will provide added comfort and warmth without hiding your pet from view.

Traveling with a pet can seem slightly overwhelming, and so can finding the right carrier for him/her. But as long as you follow your airline's regulations and take your pet's personality into consideration, you'll find one that is perfect for your pet in no time.

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