FLYING WITH DOGS
The following information has been compiled by Sidney Hardie from various
web sites and dog-related e-mail lists, including
Airedale Show Breeders List and Cleanrun Agility List. Posted with her permission.
Traveling Abroad Doggy Style by Linda Austin
* Dog must be at least eight weeks of age and weaned at least
five days before flying.
(Some airlines may set a higher minimum such as three months.)
* Make a reservation for your dog at least 24 hours in advance.
* Book a direct flight whenever possible. Next best is a flight with a stop, but no change of plane.
If you have to go through another airport choose one that has less traffic.
* A non-stop flight is the ideal plan for several reasons.
* First, the occurrence of potentially-stressful conditions on your dog is minimized: pressurization and mechanical noises associated with lift-off and landing, movement and jostling by even the most careful baggage handlers, and loud equipment noises within cargo areas of airports.
* Second, most healthy dogs (young adults, not pups), when fully trained, are able to hold their bladder for 7 - 9 hours while in their kennel. Most dogs will not soil where they sleep and thus will "hold it" until it's released from the kennel. The USDA requires a signature from the owner stating that your dog was last fed and watered within 4 hours of departure. Some airlines go further with their compliance, recommending that you withhold food and water 6 hours prior to departure, and then feed and water your dog just before checking in. Still, don't be surprised if your dog leaves you with a gift to clean-up once you arrive at your destination. Be prepared: bring a small amount of clean-up supplies.
* For flights over 9 hours, our conservative recommendation, which is echoed by the ASPCA, is to schedule your flight as two segments with a layover somewhere midway. The layover allows you to give your dog a break, to walk, water and play with him/her before the final flight. With that said, having frequently traveled non-stop from the West Coast to Paris, we have witnessed many dogs handling the 10+ hour flight with no problem.
NOTE: If you decide to include a layover and/or change planes, you'll need to know where to go to retrieve and re-board your dog. According to Travel Agent magazine (a travel industry publication), "Most of the airlines will not transfer animals for connecting flights onto another airline . . . ", meaning you'll have to play an active role to ensure that your dog makes the connecting flight.
* If you're traveling in hot weather or to a warm climate, book a night or early morning flight. Spring and Fall are better seasons than Summer and Winter because temperatures tend to be more comfortable. Choose a weekday, when airport traffic is likely to be less frantic. Avoid busy dates such as holidays.
* Temperature Restrictions: Temperature restrictions have been established to ensure animals are not exposed to extremes of heat or cold in animal holding areas, terminal facilities, when moving animals between terminal facilities and aircraft, or on aircraft awaiting departure for more than 45 minues. Must not be subjected to surrounding temperature exceeding 85 degrees (Farenheit) for more than 45 minutes. Must not be subjected to surrounding temperature which is below 45 degrees (Farenheit) for more than 45 minutes.
* Type of Aircraft: Aircraft that are suitable for your dog have cargo holds that are temperature controlled, well-ventilated, and pressurized. Even still, air circulation in the hold may be reduced during a delay on the runway. For that reason, DC-10s are not recommended. Boeing (specifically, 727, 737, 747, 757, 767 and 777) as well as the French-built Airbus aircraft are equipped with a heating and cooling system in the cargo hold. When setting your flight plans, make sure in advance that the aircraft is one that is suitable for your dog. Don't assume that your travel agent or an airline ticketing employee automatically knows this-ask to confirm!
Some jets cannot fit the XL size crate through the cargo door -- be sure to check the model type.
PREPARATIONS FOR TRAVEL:
* The kennel must meet minimum legal standards for size, strength, sanitation and screened openings for ventilation. The size should be just large enough to allow your dog to stand up, turn around and lie down comfortably. It must have sturdy handles or adequate handholds so that luggage handlers can physically lift and move it safely without risking injury to themselves or your dog. Kennels with a slightly budging lip on the sides all-around are highly recommended: the lip acts as a handhold, but more importantly, the lip's bulge helps to keep its windows clear of luggage that would otherwise obstruct ventilation. The door to the kennel must latch securely but without a lock (in case of emergency, airline personnel must be able to open the door on demand without tools, a key or combination for a lock). Kennels are usually made up of a top and bottom half plus a gate, all of which assemble quickly without tools.
* Make your life easier by bringing a portable, flat-bed cart, to lug the kennel and your luggage.
Suggestions for securing the kennel:
* Use a chain choke collar with a "C" snap at each end (little
barrels on ends that lock the "C" shut, and it then looks like an "O").
Weave the chain through the door and attach each end to the side wire grate.
The clamp is easily undone and the door cannot accidently come loose.
* Duct tape all around.
* Place a luggage strap around the Vari-Kennel.
* Get a long chain and paddle lock. Run the chain through the side vent in the kennel and then wrap it around the crate door and lock that way.
* Using a sodering iron, which you can get very cheaply at a hardware store, put holes in your plastic crate on each side of the door, top and bottom. Also put two holes on each side through the top and bottom halves where the screws are. From the hardware store, get the kind of locking rings that have a screw fastener. I know they have a name but I don't know what it is. They are often found around the part of the store that has chain and stuff. At the front of the crate on each side of the door, slip your fastener through the hole you've made in the crate and the grate of the door and twist up the fastener to the closed position. Do this on the sides as well. This will secure the door and the two halves. You will not be able to get into the crate quickly however. This is a good way to prepare a crate for shipping if you must ship a dog. (I would also bungee the doors and both halves as well.)
OTHER KENNEL PREPARATIONS:
* Mark the area above the door with LARGE BLACK letters
'DO NOT OPEN'.
* Write a note to the luggage handlers on duct tape plastered to the top of the kennel. "Hi my name is ______. My owner is very worried about me. Please let the captain know when I am on board so he can tell ____________."
* Attach a tag to the crate with your dog's microchip number and mark the top of the kennel "THIS DOG IS MICROCHIPPED"
* Write the words "Live Animal" in letters at least one inch tall on the top of the crate and on at least one side. Use arrows to prominently show the upright position of the crate.
* Write down the address and telephone number of the sender and receiver and be sure to seal it completely with tape to the top of the crate.
* Line the crate bottom with some type of bedding -- shredded paper or towels -- to absorb accidents.
* On top of that, place your dog's familiar blanket or bedding. Throw in a couple of his/her favorite toys, chewies or treats (choose chewies that your dog can't devour completely and, thus, stimulate it's digestive system). Toss in a couple of pieces of clothing that have your scent.
* The crate must have two dishes -- one for food and one for water -- attached inside. They must be easily accessible to airline personnel.
* Duct-tape a rip-proof bag (such as a big Tyvek envelope found at most office supply stores) to the outside of the kennel. In this bag, enclose a 4-foot leash and a zip-lock plastic bag containing a serving of your dog's dry dog food.
* Freeze water you provide for your dog so that it will not fall out during loading, but will melt by the time the animal is thirsty.
* Tranquilization is not recommended.
* Put cotton balls in the dog's ears to cut down the noise.
* Make sure your dog is comfortable in his kennel BEFORE the flight:
Properly conditioning your dog to its traveling kennel is extremely important. If your dog has never traveled in a kennel (by car or air), much less been in one, then you'll need to get him/her well-adjusted to it well in advance. We urge that you purchase a kennel long before your trip so that you can familiarize your dog to it at least two months in advance. Your dog should be able to stay quietly in its kennel for about 7 - 8 hours. Ideally, your dog should easily enter and sleep in it without much coaxing from you.
* Two months before trip -- buy a kennel if you don't own one
and get your dog used to it -- see above.
* Make an appointment with your dog's veterinarian for a check-up, and make sure all vaccinations are up to date. Dogs must have been vaccinated for rabies administered between 30 days and one year prior to departure.
* Generally speaking, a good dog owner will know if his/her dog can handle the conditions of air travel. A dog traveling in the cargo hold are subjected to more stressful conditions than those traveling in the passenger cabin with its owner. For that reason, seek the advice of your vet if your dog has naturally labored breathing (especially for breeds such as pugs or bull terriers). Tranquilizing a dog is not recommended. Dogs should be fully recovered from any kind of surgery, including neutering and spaying. Pregnant dogs and those anticipated to come into heat during travel, as well as those that are extremely skittish and/or fearful are better left at home.
* Obtain a health certificate from your vet no earlier than 10 days before departure. This document certifies that your dog is healthy for travel and that he/she is current with all vaccinations (DHLP, parvo, bordetella, corona as well as rabies).
* The day before your flight call the airline about EXACTLY what they require from you and what you expect from them. Get names. Write it all down.
* Prepare your kennel for shipping (see above).
* Fill the plastic dishes with water and put them in the freezer.
* Prepare a tote bag to take with you including, a leash and your dog's regular collar, either water from home or bottled water to give him/her first thing, and include a mini clean-up kit (some paper towels, small spray bottle of liquid cleaner/disinfectant, a couple of trash bags, "pooper-scooper mitts" (plastic bags), etc.) If you have enough room, pack extra water and food from home since water is different in places other than home and a change of water and food can give them diarrhea. Use an insulated carrier as your tote bag so you can keep the water in the plastic dishes frozen until you place them in the kennel. Put in cotton balls if you are going to put them in your dog's ears.
* Prepare the collar your dog will wear in the kennel. Your dog should wear a collar with an identification tag that lists your name, address and telephone number. Small luggage tags are great for clipping onto your dogs collar with temporary information such as the telephone number of the hotel or residence you are visiting.
* Never leave a choke chain, halti collar or any type of muzzle on your dog during travel in its kennel. The dog should wear a flat collar with a secure buckle. Collars with plastic snap-on buckles aren't recommended because dogs have the pulling strength to unsnap it.
* One suggestion is to use a 1" wide piece of white elastic (the type found on jockey shorts) and with a permanent marker write my name, address and phone number. Also the name address and phone of her/his destination. Make is so it just fits the dog's neck without having to stretch at all. It won't fall off, but should it get caught on something, the dog can slip out of it if necessary.
THE DAY OF TRAVEL
* Awaken early enough so that upon feeding and watering your dog,
he/she has time to urinate and defecate (about 45 -90 minutes after eating).
If possible, time this so that it's about 6 hours before boarding. If time
permits, a good, long walk is recommended.
* Remember to take the plastic dishes out of the freezer and put them in your tote bag.
* Put your dog's traveling collar on in addition to his regular collar.
* You must offer food and water to your dog four hours before delivery to the airline.
* When you arrive at the airport, your plan should be to keep your dog until the very last possible moment before loading him/her. Check-in your luggage and kennel.
* Check all tags that any one puts on your dog's crate. Don't assume that your dog's ticket is right just because yours is. Have your crate marked well with your dog's information and your flight information.
* Then, proceed to exercise your dog with the intention of burning off as much energy as possible. Continue walking for as long as you can, giving him/her a last chance to commune with nature.
* When you're ready to board your dog, attach the frozen bowls or fill the water bowl with ice cubes and put the cotton balls in his ears.
* Make sure your dog has boarded the plane before you get on.
* As you board the plane, you might file pass the pilots in the cockpit. At this point, alert the pilots that your best friend is aboard in the cargo hold and request that proper heating/cooling and ventilation systems are active in that compartment. To really get their attention, we recommend giving the pilot a cute snapshot photo of your dog along with a written message-a friendly way to remind them that precious cargo is on-board and to turn on the air systems. If the commotion of boarding passengers keeps you from talking to the pilots, make your request known to a flight attendant by asking him/her to deliver the photo snapshot-message to the pilots. Also ask the attendant to confirm that your dog has been loaded onto your plane.
* One person said she carries a letter to the pilot asking for a confirmation that the dog is loaded and asks the attendant to deliver it. Another added that she does the same thing, but sends a plate of homemade brownies with the letter.
* If there is a plane change, go through your original boarding routine making sure the dog is loaded, etc. If you should have a layover of 30 min. or more do everything in your power to go and physically check on your dog, particularly if it is hot or cold outside.
* Upon arrival talk to the gate attendant telling he or she that there is a live animal on board and that you would like her to call down and see that it is unloaded first. As soon as you know your dog is unloaded, head to baggage claim.
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