Pet Travel Challenges and Solutions
You can do hours of research about country requirements and pet-friendly airlines, you can crate train your pet and talk to your vet, but you can't altogether avoid travel surprises. Hiccups happen from time to time, so the best plan of attack is to be prepared for anything that may come your way.
Here are a few unexpected scenarios and how to deal with them:
1. Flight Cancellations
Just like with human travel, a malfunctioning aircraft or weather problems could lead to a canceled flight (especially during winter pet travel). Be ready for anything by giving yourself a little wiggle room when it comes to pet documents and when they expire—in other words, don't get your time-sensitive paperwork too early just in case you end up having to wait around to get your pet into the air.
2. Lost Paperwork
In the scramble to handle your own travel arrangements as well as your pet's, it's conceivable that something could get lost in the shuffle. You may be able to live without some things, but when it comes to important pet import documents, there's no room for error. Carry copies of everything in a separate place so that you won't be stuck in a messy situation.
3. Your Pet's Carrier/Crate Won't Fit on the Plane
Not all planes are equipped to handle oversized pet crates, and if you're flying in the cabin with your dog or cat, you may find variations in under-seat accommodations. The best way to avoid this setback is to call the airline ahead of time for confirmation that you'll be good to go, double-check when you get to the airport, and then keep a record of who you spoke to and what they said.
4. Surprise Layover
If weather or another uncontrollable event causes your pet to have a longer journey than originally anticipated, you'll be glad you thought ahead by attaching an extra serving of food to their crate. If your pet is flying separately from you via cargo, this is also a great reason to choose a pet-friendly airline or hire assistance—no matter what hiccups arise, in these instances a trained professional will be watching out for your pet during any downtime.
5. Your Pet is Sick
Like many travel problems, prevention is the best solution for this one. Exercise regularly, keep your pet well hydrated and feed them at least 2-3 hours before travel to help avoid any upset stomach issues. Pets can sense when something is up and may grow nervous in advance of a move, so do your best to remain calm yourself and take the time to attend to your pet's basic needs. If your furry friend falls ill right before the move, contact your vet as soon as possible, and when you book your flight, find out about rescheduling policies just in case.
Have more questions or need some assistance planning your pet's safe move? Contact PetRelocation for more advice about any possible tangles, confusion or snafus that may arise during your pet travels. Here's wishing everyone a smooth journey!
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in June 2011 and has been updated with new information.