Client handout: A preflight checklist for air travel with pets
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, around 2 million live animals travel by air every year in the United States. The vast majority of these pets arrive at their destinations and back home again safe and sound. Yet things do go wrong (26 pets died while in the care of an airline in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Reports), and when they do, it tends to make the national news and cause pet owners to panic.
As to whether this worry is warranted, Jeff Werber, DVM, says probably not—at least for healthy pets. He likens the anxiety to people being more afraid of flying than of driving, even though far more people die in car crashes than plane crashes.
“According to the airlines, cargo areas carrying pets are controlled for temperature and pressure. When there is a problem, it’s often related to other factors, such as stress, anxiety, breed-specific health problems and human error,” says Dr. Werber.
In the age of social media and online reviews, and at a time when pets are becoming more and more like family members, airlines and airports are wisely stepping up their game to be more pet-friendly, Dr. Werber says. This means that it may become increasingly common for veterinarians to step in and help clients evaluate whether traveling with pets by plane is worth the headache.
“With the availability of such amazing boarding facilities, I tell clients that they really need to evaluate if it’s worth all of the trouble and the angst—for the pets and themselves—to take a pet on a short trip, says Dr. Werber.
If your clients decide that it is, in fact, worth all of the trouble and angst, provide them with this handout of tips for preparing both the pets and the clients for air travel.