Debunking Myths About Pets Flying in Cargo: Expert Insights for Safe and Informed Pet Travel

dog travels as via manifest cargo

Pets Flying in Cargo: Separating Fact from Fiction

Shipping pets as cargo can raise many questions and concerns for pet owners. With various myths circulating about pet air travel, it's essential to separate fact from fiction. At PetRelocation, we've arranged thousands of pet flights in cargo and are here to debunk common misconceptions about flying cats and dogs as cargo. With almost 20 years of experience, we'll provide clarity and peace of mind for pet owners preparing for air travel.

  • Myth: The pet cargo hold is dangerously hot or cold.

  • Reality: Cargo is climate controlled on most airplanes.

Contrary to the myth, the cargo area on most flights that accept pets is climate-controlled, just like the passenger cabin above. Airlines have "Weather Embargoes" during extreme temperature months to protect pets during tarmac wait times, not because of cargo hold temperatures. We work with pet-friendly airlines that keep pets in climate-controlled environments throughout the journey, ensuring they're never exposed to harsh conditions on the tarmac.

  • Myth: The pet cargo hold is not pressurized.

  • Reality: cabin and cargo pressure are the same on most flights.

In most large aircraft, the pressure in cargo is the same as in the cabin above. We only book pressurized flights for live animal transportation, ensuring the air circulated through the cargo area is the same as in the cabin.

  • Myth: Isn't it safer to drive my pet?

  • Reality: Driving a pet is not necessarily safer than flying.

Unless you plan on driving your pet personally or having a friend drive it, relocating your pet by air may be safer and faster than having a ground transportation company drive them. Long distance ground transportation can be more distressing for a pet than flying, and potentially more dangerous due to the amount of time it takes, variance in ground transport companies, and the number of stops/starts/driver breaks involved. While personal driving may be an option for short distances, long-distance ground transportation can be more distressing and potentially riskier for pets than flying. Air travel can be faster and safer, especially when entrusted to experienced pet transport professionals.

We have a network of vetted ground transport partners who we hire whenever a pet needs to be transported this way—because there are instances when pets can't fly due to breed restrictions, weather, or a lack of flight availability. We wouldn't trust just any driver with your most precious cargo.

  • Myth: Pets should be sedated before a flight to reduce stress.

  • Reality: sedating your pet before a flight is not safe!

It is unsafe to fly tranquilized/sedated pets.

It is unsafe to fly tranquilized or sedated pets, as tranquilizers suppress the respiratory system and impair a pet's ability to cope with altitude and temperature changes. Instead, we recommend crate training for stress reduction. Explore our tips for crate-training dogs for crate training cats for travel

A pet acclimated to their pet travel crate well in advance will have much less stress when flying. Here are a few tips for crate training dogs for travel.

If you want to learn about pet cargo reservations, you can compare manifest cargo vs. excess baggage here

Ready to start planning your pet's safe move? Learn more about how we move pets


PetRelocation Team


Air Travel, Airlines, Ask the Experts


Cats, Dogs


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