jet set pets: air travel tips

dog running on a beach

Bandit, our Shih-Poo, a Shih Tzu-Poodle mix, will be two years old this August. While some days his behaviour rivals that of the Prince of Darkness, the benefits of having our furry friend far outweigh the occasional pitfalls.

Since Bandit has become a member of our family, we’ve continued to travel, but until now, we haven’t felt comfortable bringing him along on trips that involve air travel. Lately however, we’ve been contemplating the idea of taking him on a plane  but before we buy him his travel outfit (come on we all have one, why shouldn’t he?!), I wanted to do a little research.

In just a few clicks, I found myself on, a company based out of Florida that boasts having over 17 years’ experience, and claiming to be the “worldwide travel resource for pets”. One of the most helpful features on Pet Travel’s website is their Services menu, which provides a list of over 160 airlines and their respective pet policies. I chose Air Canada and was immediately provided with helpful information about the airline’s pet policies, broken down into categories such as in-cabin, checked baggage or manifest cargo – all options for transporting your pet on an airplane. Having once witnessed someone at the airport lose their pet who was traveling as “checked baggage”, I was happy to learn that Bandit is small enough to stay with us in the cabin.

The site also provides useful information for pets traveling by car, sea, ferry or train.

I also visited, a South Carolina company that provides information for dog owners who want to see the world with “fido” in tow. Bring Fido provided airline information comparable to that of, but the site offers a few more bells and whistles, such as information about pet-friendly hotels (complete with visitor photos and reviews), eventsattractions  and restaurants. There is also a directory of pet businesses, which is helpful if you need to find a pet store, a doggy daycare or an emergency veterinarian while traveling. The forum on the website allows visitors to share dog travel stories, ask for advice or just “talk” with other dog owners around the world. I felt a lot more at ease after visiting this website. Although the website is for dog owners, the information is also helpful for owners travelling with other small pets.

Besides having to check Bandit in as baggage, I was worried about sedating him in order to keep him calm throughout the flight. After doing some research, I was surprised to learn that medically sedating your pet was not recommended by any of the sites I visited. According to American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), air transport of sedated pets may be fatal. Over sedation is the most frequent cause of animal deaths during airline transport and accounts for more than half of all deaths when flying. Except in unusual circumstances, veterinarians should not dispense sedatives for animals that are to be transported. In fact, many airlines will not accept an animal if they are sedated. Your best bet is to speak with your veterinarian and find out what they recommend.

If you are travelling with a larger pet that must be checked in with baggage or cargo, you may want to do some research by checking with the airline for temperature requirements/restrictions for pets to ensure they will not be too cold or too hot during the flight, depending on where and when you are traveling with them.

While each country has its own requirements for entering with animals, two requirements that seem to be common to every country is that your pet must be vaccinated against rabies and must also be microchipped.

Here are a few more helpful hints if you’re considering flying with your pet.

Have you ever flown with your pet? We’d love to hear about it!



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