Written by Guest Blogger, Mariana C. Gonzalez.
Traveling with our companion animals can be a smooth and pleasant experience for the animals involved and their owners or it can be not only stressful for both but also a risk to the animals’ emotional well-being and physical health. At Schneider Electric, we recognize and care about the importance of cultivating the physical, mental, emotional, and social dimensions of well-being, which are outlined in our Well-Being campaign. Moreover, our corporate culture recognizes that well-being involves not just taking care of ourselves in regards to these dimensions but it also involves looking after in this respect those who are under our care and are our responsibility, such as our companion animals. At Schneider Electric, we also recognize the importance of work-life balance and taking time off as part of cultivating our own and our families’ well-being.
For those who are considering either going on vacation or relocating with their nonhuman family members, here are 5 essential safety tips when traveling with animals by air. These are largely based on general recommendations provided by our relocation partner vendor, Altair Global.
- Consider the breed, age, temperament, and any physical disabilities of your companion animal: Keep in mind that not all pets can travel safely by air in the cargo holds. It is not recommendable to transport brachycephalic animals such as Pekingese dogs, Chow Chows, bulldogs, or Persian cats that way. The reason for this is that these sorts of breeds have short nasal passages that can cause them to experience oxygen deprivation and heatstroke while being transported in cargo holds. Further, if your pet tends to be very nervous and anxious, is an older animal, or has a disability, it is best to avoid transporting him or her via cargo as well.
- Have your pet travel with you in the cabin, if possible: To elaborate on the above safety tip, there is a real risk involved in transporting pets via cargo. You should be aware that every year there are animals who are lost or killed while being transported in that manner. If your pet really must travel via cargo, be sure to follow rigorously all the safety precautions recommended by both your veterinarian and the airline. This includes but is not limited to choosing an appropriate kennel that meets the airline’s requirements (see image 1 below on recommended kennel sizes, courtesy of Altair Global’s vendor, Pet Relocation), using direct flights, traveling on the same flight as your pet, informing the captain that pets will be on board, and choosing a date of travel when the weather will not be extreme. To be clear, having pets travel in the cabin and not via cargo is my specific recommendation as Relocation Counselor. My view is that this is the safest way for an animal to travel by air. If your pet is too big to travel in the cabin, I would suggest that you consider another means of transportation.
- Prepare with time in advance: Have your companion animal get acquainted with the kennel s/he will be traveling in for at least a month before the date of travel. This familiarity will help your pet remain calm during the trip. Additionally, have your pet get a medical check-up before traveling to make sure that health wise s/he is suited to travel; and obtain a health certificate from your vet, as airlines generally require it. Make sure your pet is up-to-date on all required vaccinations and bring with you the relevant documentation that states this. Research as much as you can on how to ensure a safe trip for your pet as well as on how the different airlines have performed with respect to transporting pets safely.
- Do not give your pet tranquilizers or sedatives: Giving an animal tranquilizers or sedatives when traveling by air is generally not recommended, and strongly so. According to Pet Relocation, the American Veterinary Medical Association has indicated that sedating companion animals can increase the risk of experiencing heart or respiratory issues while traveling. An animal may also experience other unfavorable reactions, depending on her or his breed and temperament. Instead of using tranquilizers/sedatives, help your pet remain as calm as possible by means of prior crate-training and acclimation.
- Make sure your pet is traveling with all ID and travel info: Include ID travel labels in the pet carrier and have your pet wear a collar ID. The travel label adhered to the carrier should include your name, the address of your destination, your permanent address, your cellphone, and the telephone numbers of both your home location and travel destination. Make sure your pet’s collar is appropriate in that it won’t get caught in the carrier door. This collar should too include your name, home address, and home phone numbers as well as the address and phone numbers of your travel destination where you can be contacted. On a related note, it is also recommendable that you bring with you a photo of your pet so that you can show it to others in case your pet gets lost at any point.
This list of tips, although essential, is not exhaustive. As mentioned in tip #3, it’s important that you research and be fully educated on all that is involved when traveling by air with an animal so that you can make informed decisions that are in the best interest of your nonhuman family member. As someone who has 3 adopted cats and who often oversees moves involving pets, I hope that these tips provide initial insight in this regard for the benefit of your companion animal’s well-being.
About the Author
Mariana C. Gonzalez joined Schneider Electric in 2011. She is a Relocation Counselor and part of the North America Talent Acquisition and Mobility Organization. Since 2011, Marianna has overseen hundreds of relocations, which have included intra-US and intra-Canada moves as well as international relocations between the US and Canada; and from Mexico, China, India, Europe, and the Middle East to the US or Canada. She is a vegan primarily for moral reasons and secondly for environmental reasons. In her free time, Mariana enjoys making art with an animal rights message and engages in creative, abolitionist vegan advocacy. Feel free to check out her artwork at www.facebook.com/mcg.artwork and www.instagram.com/mcg.artwork/
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