Thursday, March 4, 2010

Come Fly with Fifi

Spring may be in the air, but even before we all pull up stakes and head out for spring break, many pet owners have been traveling with their dogs and cats to escape the harsh winter we have been having here in the Northeast. This is not a new phenomenon, but it seems that more people have smaller dogs and they want to travel with them. There are a couple of things that they should be aware of.

First, dogs can fly in cargo, that is under the plane, or in the cabin if they are small enough to fit under the seats. Check with your airline far in advance as they may limit the number of pets that can fly in the cabin. In fact, a recent article in the NY Times highlighted the concerns of the Canadian Medical Association that pets in the cabin may be a risk to human passengers and are recommending that no pets be allowed in the cabin. Hmmm, that would certainly crimp the vacation plans for a lot of pampered pets that I know.

Each airline has different requirements for pets on domestic flights and they change regularly so you will need to check with them. Don't expect your veterinarian to be current on each airline's policy. My head would explode if that were part of my daily routine. International flights are a bigger problem and you should check with the consulate in the destination country for the current regulations.

Some pets travel really well, like some people I guess. Others, not so well. We generally do not like to sedate animals for travel, especially those traveling in cargo. Nothing like a poor reaction to a tranqulizer at 30,000 feet to ruin a trip. For dogs that are very anxious, speak with your veterinarian. There are some medications that might work with minimal risk to your pet. In some cases it might be best to leave Fido at home with a firend or, heaven forbid, at a kennel. (Note tongue in cheek sarcasm here as I do own a kennel and the dogs really do very well here while you are off galivanting about. Just remember to buy them a t-shirt so they feel loved).

Whatever your decision, make sure that you canine companion is up to date on vaccines and if you are headed south (and I hope you are) make sure that he or she is taking heartworm prevention and that you are using something for fleas.

Stay safe and have a great travel season.

Keith Niesenbaum, VMD
Check out our Face Book Fan Page, Crawford Dog and Cat Hospital/Black Forest Kennels.

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