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BellaOnline's Family Travel Editor

Flying With Your Pet

Before you decide to take your pet on vacation, itís a good idea to weigh the pros and cons. Some pros of traveling with your pet: no kennel costs, fewer worries for the kids, and the added fun and security a beloved pet can bring. Some cons: having your pet along may limit your destination possibilities, you may find indoor activities such as eating out or visiting museums a hassle, plus getting your pet to a far-flung destination can be challenging. This article will focus on flying with your pet.

Itís a good idea to make the decision to fly with your pet before purchasing your airline tickets since airlines regulations vary. Some airlines allow small pets in the cabin (if their carrier will fit under the seat), others donít. Some airlines will allow you to check your pet through as part of your baggage allowance while others charge an extra fee. Whichever airline you choose, try to get a direct flight so your pet wonít have to be moved twice.

Make an appointment with your petís veterinarian prior to the trip. If youíre concerned about your petís well-being while flying, ask her opinion on sedating your pet for the trip. Also be sure to get a note stating that your pet is in good health and should have no problem withstanding the lower temperature of the planeís cargo hold. Make sure your petís license and registration are up to date and that your pet has an ID tag to wear.

Your pet wonít need much for the trip, but a retractable leash, a few small toys, a brightly colored collar, and a set of collapsible food and water dishes are useful. You may need to provide food and water for your pet if the flight is long. Purchase a quality pet carrier with plenty of ventilation, a secure latch, and space for your pet to stand up and turn around. Leave the carrier out for several days prior to the trip so your pet can become accustomed to it. Encourage the kids to give their pet treats while itís in the carrier and to line the bottom with a favorite old blanket. Make a label to include on top of (or inside) the carrier with your name, cell phone number, flight information, and where youíll be staying. Be sure to carry a recent photo of your pet in case they get lost during your trip.

When you get to the airport, find an area where your pet can exercise before boarding. Your pet will have to go through security just like everyone else so itís a good idea to explain the security procedure prior to arriving at the airport so your kids wonít be alarmed. Make sure you have a leash handy for your pet; airline officials may ask you to remove them from the carrier for closer inspection or to x-ray the carrier itself. Lastly, before you board, be sure you know the procedures for claiming your pet at the end of the flight.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Kimberly Misra. All rights reserved.
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