Pet Travel Checklist when Taking a Domestic Flight

Traveling with a pet can be stressful. But, with the right approach and plenty of preparation, it’s possible to make flying with your pet smooth sailing. At VIP Petcare, we strive to be a comprehensive resource for every aspect of your pet’s health. Here’s our comprehensive checklist for traveling with a dog, cat, or other pet on a domestic flight.

Keep in mind that not every airline will require everything on this list, and some airlines will have different policies. To make sure it all goes well, we’d recommend starting to research and plan at least 30 to 40 days ahead of your departure date so you have time to follow all recommended protocols.

1. Research Your Airline’s Pet Policy

The first step in safe and efficient flight travel with your pet is understanding your airline’s pet policy. The size of your pet and the breed will determine whether you can bring your pet in the cabin with you, or if your pet will need to be stowed underneath. There are also specific kennel instructions that need to be followed.

2. Book a Direct Flight.

Do yourself a favor: get a nonstop flight. Direct flights reduce flight time, limit stress, and prevent any problems with transferring between planes.

3. Talk with Your Veterinarian

Your vet is your best resource for specific information on traveling with your cat or dog. Talk with your vet about potential health risks, safety measures, and anything else you should consider to make sure your pet is safe and comfortable on the flight.

4. Make sure your pet has proper identification.

Getting proper identification for your pet is always important, but that’s doubly true when it comes to traveling. Whether you’re traveling with a dog or a cat, it’s critical to give them a tag with your name, phone number, and contact information, both for your home address and where you’ll be staying. Additionally, make sure to get your pet a microchip to provide a permanent form of identification in case they get lost. If your pet already has a microchip, double check that the contact info is up to date and make sure it has information for your travel destination.

5. Bring your pet’s medical records.

Flying can present a health hazard for pets, so it’s a good idea to keep a copy of your pet’s medical records with you as you travel. This includes immunization records, information for medical conditions, and anything else relevant to your pet’s health and safety.

6. Get a Domestic Health Certificate.

Some airlines require a health certificate in order to fly, but if they don’t, you may still need to have one depending on which state you are traveling to. State health officials generally require health certificates for all animals. Health certificates must be issued by a licensed veterinarian who examines the pet within 10 days of departure. Check with your veterinarian for specific information.

7. Carry a Color Photo of Your Pet

Get a good quality color photo of your pet, then attach a copy to their crate and keep one on your person. This will help with identifying your pet if they run off somewhere.

8. Remember the Essentials

This may seem obvious, but it’s all too easy to forget the crucial essentials. Remember to pack your pet’s bed, toys, leash, food, and any medications, and keep everything handy in case you need it on the flight.

9. When you arrive at the airport, make sure the airline staff knows you have a pet with you.

Whether you are taking your pet on the plane with you, or if he or she will be in the cargo hold, notifying the staff will help make sure your pet gets what he or she needs. This helps especially if there is a delay and your pet is waiting to be put in the cargo area- the staff can help you ensure your pet receives proper care, including food and water.

Get the Downloadable Pet Travel Checklist

Following these tips will help make traveling with your dog or cat as easy as possible, but keeping a copy on hand is the best way to prepare. Download the checklist below, and as a little going-away present, we’re including a voucher for $10 off any vaccine package at one of our pet health care clinics. No matter where you’re going, we hope this checklist helps you keep your pet safe during travel – and we hope both you and your pet have a great trip!