Small dog maltese sitting in his transporter or bag and waiting for a trip

Are you planning to travel with your pet this spring break – or even this summer? If so, there are three steps you can take to make it less stressful for your pup, and easier on you too. To learn more about Three Dog Bakery, click here

3 Steps to Stress-Free Pet Travel

Jean & Leslie Kessigner, Owners Three Dog Bakery
Jean & Leslie Kessigner, Owners
Three Dog Bakery

Step 1 – Follow Rules & Regulations

Make sure you familiarize yourself with the airline’s rules regarding traveling with pets. Also, be sure to ask the airline if it has any requirements relating to the health or immunization records for your Best Buddy.

In Cabin: Most airlines allow only small pets to ride as “carry-ons,” so you will have to check with the airline to find out if your Buddy can ride in the cabin with you. Ask about what type of pet carriers you can bring on-board. Also, ask if there are any breed or weight restrictions.

Note: Certain breeds should not travel by air in the cargo hold due to their short nasal passages. Animals such as Pug or snub-nosed dogs or cats, including Pekingese, Chow Chows and Persians are vulnerable to both oxygen deprivation and heat stroke in close quarters such as cargo holds.

Below Cabin: If your pet is too big to fly in the cabin, ask if Fido can be transported below as checked baggage. Also ask if the airline has any restrictions in that regard. Also, be sure you know the airline’s specific requirements about the types of pet carriers allowed.

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Step 2 – Visit Your Veterinarian First

Make sure you are making an objective decision and not an emotional one when you decide to travel with your pup. Let’s face it, not all pets have the temperament for travel – especially if they have physical limitations or chronic illness. Such issues will only cause more stress for you and your Buddy — and for you.

Before you travel, visit your veterinarian and make sure your pup is healthy and up-to-date with all the necessary vaccinations. Ask your vet his opinion on traveling with Fido. This will give you peace-of-mind in the long run. In addition, secure a Health Certificate from your Vet (dated within 10 days of your departure date) and carry it with you when you travel.

Step 3Review & Check “To-Do” List 

  • Book a Non-Peak Flight. Off-peak flights typically mean fewer passengers, fewer crowds, more cabin space, and less stress for your pet. If possible, book a non-peak flight.
  • Book a Direct Flight. Layovers and plane changes can cause your Buddy undue stress, especially if there isn’t time for a walk and a potty break in between flights.
  • Travel Together. Always travel with your pet on the same flight. Ask the airline if you can watch your pet being loaded and unloaded onto the plane. Also, when boarding your flight, tell a flight attendant that your Buddy is traveling with you so that they are aware and can take any precautions necessary.
  • Arrive Early. Pack everything well ahead of time, and leave early enough to allow plenty of time for the boarding process and your pet’s needs. Try to be relaxed before and during the flight — pets can sense your stress and anxiety and it can carryover to them.
  • Don’t Tranquilize your Pet. Don’t give your pet tranquilizers that your veterinarian hasn’t prescribed.
  • Consider Holistic Remedies. There are some holistic options for calming your nervous pet. “Ark
    Pet Travel 1
    Happy Traveler Chews
    Pet Travel 2
    Holistic travel remedies

    Naturals Happy Traveler is an excellent way to calm your anxious dog 100 percent naturally,” says Leslie Kessinger, co-owner of Three Dog Bakery  in Franklin. Happy Traveler comes in capsules (recommended for larger dogs or extremely anxious dogs) and chews, and contains ingredients like valerian, tryptophan, and chamomile that soothe anxiety without sedation. “Your dog feels more calm, but still acts like himself, unlike prescription sedatives and anti-anxiety medications which completely knock them out,” adds Kessinger. If your pup’s anxiety or excitement is mild, Kessinger recommends Rescue Remedy, which is another natural calming aid. “Rescue Remedy is an alcohol-free tonic that can be applied to treats or added to food to help reduce stress. It is milder than Happy Traveler, so it’s recommended for dogs who just need a little help remaining calm in the stress of travel,” says Kessinger.

  • Nail Trimming. Long nails can get caught in carrier doors, holes and crevices. If Fido’s nails are trimmed, it will help you avoid injury.
  • No Food, But Water. Avoid feeding your pup four to six hours before your flight to avoid indigestion and other travel-induced stomach problems. You can give your pet a bit of water. Securing a travel bowl containing ice cubes to the inside of the carrier is a good idea.
  • Consider the Temp. If you choose to travel during summer or winter, select a flight that will accommodate temperature extremes, especially if your pet is traveling in the below-cabin area. During the summer months, most airlines establish pet travel embargoes for summer months.
  • Choose the Correct Pet Carrier. There are two main types of carriers available: hard-sided and soft-sided. Soft-sided carriers make better carry-ons, as they are a bit flexible and tend to fit better under the seat. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations carefully as far as the appropriate size carrier for your pet. Your carrier should be well ventilated and large enough for your pet to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably. Make sure your pet cannot escape the carrier.
  • Label Carrier. Secure a travel label to your pet’s carrier with his name; your name, cell number and final destination address and phone numbers; along with the name and number of a contact person.
  • Prepare your Pup. A month before your flight, begin familiarizing your pet with his travel carrier. Feeling at home in the carrier will minimize his stress during travel. Put an item with your scent on it in the carrier – this will give your pup great comfort during the trip.
  • Update Pet ID & Collar. Make sure that your pet wears a collar that can’t get caught in his carrier door. Secure two pieces of identification onto your pup’s collar: a permanent ID with your name, home address and home phone number, and a temporary travel ID that contains the address and telephone number where you or a designated contact person can be reached at your final destination. It’s best if your pet is micro chipped.
  • Carry a Pic.  Carry a recent photo of your pet when you travel together. If you and your pet get separated somehow, it will be easier to find him.
  • Bring a Leash. Carrying a leash makes it easy to walk your dog before takeoff and after arrival. Never, ever leave a leash in or on your pup’s carrier. It can cause strangulation or other injuries.
  • Inspect your Pet. Once you arrive at your destination, find an appropriate place to open your pet’s carrier and look him over carefully. If you notice anything amiss, take him directly to a veterinarian. After the vet’s exam, get the results in writing, including the date and time of your visit. In order to file a report with your respective airline, this information is imperative.
  • Don’t Forget the Health Certificate from Vet 

You can find the holistic products for your nervous pup at Three Dog Bakery, located on West McEwen Drive, adjacent to Whole Foods in the McEwen Shopping Center in Franklin. To learn more about Three Dog Bakery, click here

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Teddy & Lucky, Pet Proprietors Three Dog Bakery
Teddy & Lucky, Pet Proprietors
Three Dog Bakery

If you have health concerns about your dog, consult your veterinarian. This article is not meant to substitute or act as medical advice for pets.