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How to travel with pets

Do you want to travel with your pet? We know that our animal friends have unique personalities and habits: some may be more inclined to travel, others less so.

However, if you feel like (or need) to bring your friend with you, here are some useful tips to enjoy the experience together in the best possible way!
How to travel with pets

Traveling by air with pets

Air travel can be particularly challenging and stressful, of all means, for many animals. For example, short-nosed animals (scientifically called "brachycephalic" animals, such as bulldogs, pugs or Persian cats), are quite susceptible to oxygen deprivation and altitude changes, given their respiratory system. So let's see how you can fly with animals in safety and peace of mind.

Take it with you in the cabin

The first tip, for any type of animal, is to bring it with you in the cabin. Most airlines allow you to take animals in the cabin at an additional cost, but to be safe it is best to inquire about this possibility before you travel (also because there are limits to the number of animals allowed in the cabin). There are a few questions you can ask before booking your flight:
  • First, does the airline allow animals in the cabin?
  • Are there special health and immunization requirements for flying with pets?
  • Do you have to have a specific type of carrier? Most airlines accept both hard and soft carriers (which can be more comfortable), but only certain brands of soft carriers are allowed on some airlines' flights;
  • If you can't take your pet in the cabin, does the airline have any restrictions on transporting it in the cargo hold?

Precautions for travel in the cargo hold

Air travel itself can be stressful for animals, in the cargo hold even more so. Even though most of the animals transported in the hold of an airplane are fine, excessively hot or cold temperatures, poor ventilation and rough handling in your absence are factors to be taken into account. For this reason, we do not recommend this option, but if you have no other option and the absolute necessity to fly with your pet, then it is better to follow these tips:
  • Choose direct flights: you will avoid stressing him with transfers from one plane to another;
  • Make sure that at least one flight attendant knows that your pet is traveling in the hold: if the captain knows that there are animals on board, he can take special precautions;
  • Do not bring brachycephalic animals in the hold: as we said, Pekingese dogs, bulldogs or Persian cats can suffer a lot a trip in the hold;
  • Make sure that there is an identification tag: in addition to the name, it is better if you also specify the home address and a phone number where you can be contacted in case of need. Even better if you also apply a label to the carrier with the same information;
  • Get your pet accustomed to the carrier (if he is not already): give him at least a month before the flight to familiarize himself with the carrier. This will minimize his stress during the trip;
  • Don't feed him before the flight: for four to six hours before the trip, it's best if he doesn't eat. You can, however, give him small amounts of water.

Security checks at airports

As with us and our luggage, our pets must be checked before taking a flight. The pet carrier will have to pass the security check, one way or another. There are two options here: if it's a leash-worthy animal, make sure it's properly harnessed so you can safely check it out of the carrier while it's being x-rayed, or ask for an alternative screening mode that doesn't require you to get it out of the carrier.

Traveling with assistance animals

In the case of assistance animals (such as guide dogs), the rules about transportation change. Usually, size or weight restrictions do not apply, but there may be cases where the airline you are traveling with does not allow you to take your pet in the cabin. In this case, the golden rule of contacting the airline before booking a ticket to make sure what the conditions are for flying with your service animal.

Traveling with pets by car

Traveling by car is a convenient and less stressful option than flying for a pet. Even then, though, it's best to take some small steps:
How to travel with pets

Fasten your seat belt

Yes, even our animal friends need a seat belt. They are easily purchased and greatly increase safety in the car (as they do for us!). Alternatively, there are many carriers with car safety latches; this is also a great option.

Use the back seat

For your and your pet's safety, it's better to use the back seat than the front. In the event of a collision or accident, it is safer for your pet to be in the back seat.

Take several breaks during the trip

Just as we need to stretch our legs, use the restroom or eat something, so do our pets, if not more! So it's best to take a few breaks during the trip to give our pets a chance to get some air and relax a bit: it will relieve the stress of the trip and make them feel more serene and calm.

Never, ever, leave your pet alone in the car

Even a small break where you step away for a moment is not a good reason to leave your pet alone in the car. If he is already stressed by the trip, seeing you leave even for a short time can be a cause of great agitation (remember that many animals have no concept of time passing, it can seem a moment as an eternity). During the hottest seasons then, the heat that is created in the car can be very harmful and dangerous to the health of your pet in the car, even if only for a few minutes.

Fact: Cats prefer the carrier. Not necessarily all cats are like this, but generally car travel for them is more comfortable in a carrier. Again, remember to secure it well so that it doesn't jerk around during the trip.

Travelling with pets by train

Many companies allow pets to be transported on trains. In this case, more or less the same advice applies as for planes and cars:
  • Take advantage of the breaks at passing stations to let him out a bit
  • Use a pet carrier if your pet feels more comfortable and secure
  • Make sure he can have something to eat or drink if he wants to.
  • Ask the company about safety measures and rules for transporting animals
How to travel with pets

Other useful tips

  • Remember that animals have papers too! The European Union, for example, also requires a health certificate and passport for pets. Always inform yourself about the regulations in your destination country before you travel if you plan to bring your pet with you.
  • If it is not necessary, consider if you should bring your animal friend with you: some love to travel, others are afraid and suffer a lot. Only you know him well enough to know, choose the best solution for his well-being.
  • Find a hotel equipped for animals: before leaving you should always inquire about what are the policies of the hotel you have chosen with animals. Many facilities today are equipped and accept virtually any pet, others are not. Avoid nasty surprises and inform yourself in advance!
  • Make him feel at home: if your pet has favorite toys to play with, for example, bring them with you!

Ready to go? By following these simple tips, we're sure you and your pet can enjoy a peaceful trip!
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