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Travelling by air with your pet

Technological advances have really made air travel easy – from online ticket purchasing to online check-ins, a quick, spontaneous holiday has never been easier. In fact, the most time consuming part of a trip may be finding a pet sitter that you trust and that your pets are comfortable with. Why not do away with this tedious task and consider taking your furry family members with you? With so many domestic and regional flights accommodating the transport of pets, local holidays no longer need to be “human only”. Rather use your time and energy to research pet friendly travel options, using the Pet Food Industry Associations of Southern Africa’s (PFI) below guidelines:

  1. Aside from service dogs, pets are not permitted within the cabin, so do consider your pet’s temperament and tolerance levels before making the decision to travel with them in this manner. Depending on the airline or service provider chosen, consider the conditions your pet will remain in before, during and after the flight. The normal cargo environment can be very severe and exposure to the noise, fumes are crate movement will intensify feelings of stress. Always consider your pet’s emotional state when making decisions on their behalf and do not expose them to unnecessary stress, if at all possible.

  2. Investigate the conditions that your potential travel partner exposes your pet to, to ensure that you feel comfortable with these.

  3. Ensuring that your choice of travel partner can accommodate your pet is important before your tickets are booked, as well as clarifying how pets are transported and that there is space on your same flight (or at least a flight that matches your itinerary).

  4. Normally, the cost of the pet travel is based on weight and the amount of space the animal crate occupies within the plane, but confirm this up front.

  5. Ensuring that your pet is properly crated, with sufficient water and an absorbent bed, mattress or similar is the owner’s responsibility. Confirm exact requirements in advance of departure and clarify if your large dog can be accommodated based on space limitations.

  6. Be sure to supply a crate large enough for your pet’s comfort – tall enough for them to stand in and large enough for them to turn around in.

  7. Up to date health and vaccination certificates are mandatory (especially the rabies vaccine for which a waiting period may be applied after the date of the last inoculation) and some airlines also require that travelling pets be microchipped.

  8. Discuss methods of limiting stress with your veterinarian beforehand.

  9. Do confirm check in requirements before arriving at the airport.

  10. Pets will generally travel in a separate section of the plane, which will also be pressurised like the section that you sit in.

  11. Cats, dogs and birds are more readily accepted on flights, over more exotic pets, so be clear with the service provider on all details when doing your investigation.

  12. Pets under the age of 8 weeks are not permitted to fly and those under 3 months will require their mother’s inoculation certificate. Be sure to check with the airline on exactly what documents will be required.

  13. It’s preferable not to feed your pet right before dropping them off this may worsen feelings of nausea and cause soiling or vomiting during the flight.


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