TRAVEL WITH YOUR DOG
An increasing number of dogs travel on internal flights today and although
International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations regarding carrier
size and conditions do not apply to internal flights it is worthwhile considering
these since they apply to all international flights. Remember with air travel
the container will be your pet's home for the length of the flight and also
for an appreciable time prior to and after the flight after you have checked
in and until he is collected after the flight.
1. The carrier should be large enough for your dog to stand
up and turn around freely. The IATA recommendations are that the height should
be the height of the dog to the top of the head in a normal standing position.
The length should be the length of the dog from the nose to the root of the
tail plus half the length measured from the floor to the elbow. This is in order
to ensure that he can lie down with his nose resting on his forelegs and his
front feet protruding beyond the tip of his nose. The width of the container
should be twice the width of the dog measured at the shoulders.
2. The carrier can be constructed of fiberglass, metal, rigid plastic, wickerwork,
weldmesh, solid wood or plywood.
3. Ventilation must be adequate and usually involves a wire mesh front on
one side or end of the container with ventilation holes over the whole of the
opposite side and the upper third of the other two sides. Projecting handles
which also act as spacers must be provided. These are essential for transportation
of the crate and also ensure that air flow is maintained when the container
is loaded into the aircraft which may have a fairly full hold.
4. Containers must be nose and paw proof, i.e. the ventilation apertures
must be of such a size that it is impossible for the animal to protrude nose
or paws outside the container. Fixed food and water containers must be provided
and these must be accessible from the outside.
On many internal flights (and some international ones) small dogs may be carried
in the passenger cabin in underseat containers. If allowed, the total weight
of the dog plus the container must not exceed 4 k (9 lb).
It is useful to use several thicknesses of newspaper plus an acrylic dog bed
of the VetBed type. A familiar article in the container helps to calm the animal.
Suitable carriers can be obtained from pet stores, breeders, kennels and often
the airlines themselves. It is always worthwhile checking with the airline regarding
their particular requirements.
Other useful tips
Tranquilization of the dog before loading in the carrier is not recommended.
Tranquilizers sometimes wear off in flight when it is impossible to either comfort
the dog or to give any further medication. Therefore it is a good idea to try
to familiarize your dog with the travel container before the trip is undertaken.
Feeding him in the container, first with the door closed and then open helps
to eliminate some of the apprehension that may be felt during the actual trip.
Animals should be under control in vehicles and unable to distract you while
you are driving. If you want your dog to be loose in the car he should be separated
from you, and thus an estate vehicle or hatchback with a strong dog guard is
ideal. Alternatively a crate or cage can be used, the dimensions of which should
be comfortable for the animal. If the dog is not so separated from you he should
be tethered so that he cannot act as a distraction. The easiest way of doing
this is place him in the footwell in the back of the car, shutting the lead,
attached to a properly adjusted collar, in the car door.
Travel, or more correctly motion sickness, is a condition which affects many
dogs. It is due to the effect of the motion on the organs of balance located
in the inner ear. Signs are usually excessive salivation, restlessness or excitement.
Many of the "human" travel sickness remedies available from petrol stations,
pharmacists and supermarkets are effective and an adult rather than a children's
dose is usually necessary for a dog. If one particular brand does not work,
try another since they all contain different combinations of drugs. Give the
tablet/s at least half an hour before traveling is due. If the over-the-counter
remedies are ineffective, consult your veterinary surgeon since there are several
prescription only medicines (POMS) that are extremely effective for this condition.
Excitable dogs can be tranquilized but make sure you experiment beforehand so
you do not give too much and have the animal off his legs for a while since
the dose depends largely on the temperament and amount of excitement.
Remember that even the most well behaved dog can take fright at the sight
and noise associated with a railway station and trains. Make sure that the collar
and lead are strong and correctly adjusted.
Today different railway companies have varying conditions regarding the transport
of pets and therefore you should inquire prior to your trip.
Many ships and ferries today have permanent kennels into which your dog must
be placed for the duration of the trip. Again the provision of a familiar blanket
or toy helps to ease the tension. Mild tranquilization is possible since you
can visit the dog during the trip and ascertain its effect.
Hints on Travel with your dog
1. If you are going to stay in an hotel, ascertain beforehand that the hotel
allows pets. There are publications available that list such hotels and boarding
houses, e.g. Pets Welcome.
2. Make sure the dog wears a correctly adjusted collar and not a check chain.
The collar should bear an identification tag with your name, address and telephone
number. If the dog has been identichipped detail this with the accompanying
3. If he is traveling unaccompanied, check that his name appears on the container
together with your name, address, telephone number and any other relevant details,
e.g. where you are collecting him from and whether you wish to be telephoned
4. Remember that most hotels and boarding houses will not allow dogs in the
public rooms, therefore if you leave him unattended in your room make sure there
is no opportunity for escape and realize that you will be responsible for any
damage caused. Again if practicable, i.e. size, a traveling cage or container
is ideal. Even if the dog is extremely well behaved make sure that you place
"Do Not Disturb" notices on the door if the dog is left unattended. In this
way the possibility of confrontation with staff and escape is minimized.
5. Should your pet get lost, contact the local police, SPCA, dog warden and
6. Remember that advance planning is vital to make the trip an enjoyable
experience for both you and your dog.
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