The hazards of air travel are usually not in the actual flying, but rather during the down time when your pet is being loaded or unloaded from the airplane, or when it is waiting.
Delays can result in extra time spent on the runways before take-off or after landing. At these times the cargo holds are not pressurized and the surrounding temperature can vary from very hot to very cold.
In fact, because of this, some airlines will not permit pets to fly during certain times of the year. For this reason, it is best to contact your airline to make sure that no risk is involved and to confirm that they will accept your pet on the flight.
If your pet is small enough, some airlines will allow you to take your dog or cat on board, provided that the carrier fits under the seat in front of you. Check with your air carrier.
It is also a good idea to have your pet examined by your veterinarian prior to departure to ensure that it is in good health and able to endure the rigors of air travel. Tranquillizers and sedatives are not usually recommended for pets except on the advice of your veterinarian.
This is because sedation can result in serious complications. For example, it can inhibit your pet’s ability to regulate its body temperature or cause breathing problems.
The Actual Flight
For the actual flight, make sure that your dog is secure in an approved carrier, purchased either from the airline, a pet store, or an animal hospital. Introduce your pet to the crate several weeks before departure to get him or her accustomed to it. Ensure that all the screws on the crate are secured and tight.
Carriers should be labeled “Live Animal” and “This End Up” in letters at least 3 cm high. Also tape some identification (name, address, destination) to the crate. Ensure that fresh water will be made available to your pet at some time during or after the flight.
It is best to travel in off-peak hours and on non-stop flights. Ideally, your pet should be last on and first off the plane. Remember to notify the flight attendants that you have a pet on board just in case there is a flight delay.