Metro Pets

By Sharon Gomes Thomas

My dog loves to travel, and fortunately for me, she doesn’t get car sick. With the holidays, I take her with me when I visit family and friends. It’s a time for celebration and I want to share the joyful occasion with my furry friend. If you plan to take your pet with you this holiday season, make sure you are prepared and explore all your transportation options.

By Plane
If you must transport your pet by air, take her on board with you, which is by far the best option. Most airlines will allow you to take a small dog or cat on board for an additional fee. The animal must be in its pet carrier at all times, with the carrier tucked under your seat. Hard-sided carriers or soft-sided carriers are allowed, but only certain brands of soft-sided carriers are acceptable to certain airlines. Make sure that your pet’s nails have been clipped to protect against their hooking in the carrier’s door, holes, and other crevices.

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Pick up an onboard a carrier at Trixie and Peanut

Trixie+Peanut Pet Emporium at 23 East 20th Street
(between Broadway + Park Ave)
Store Hours:
Tues – Sat 11am – 8pm.
Sunday 12noon – 5pm.
Closed on Mondays.
Tel: 212-358-0881.

Book as far in advance as possible and take direct flights. Most airlines allow only one animal onboard per flight. Do not give your pet tranquilizers unless they are prescribed by your veterinarian. Make sure your veterinarian understands that the prescription is for air travel. Federal regulations require that pets be at least 8 weeks old before flying. Generally, a recent health certificate (about a week) must be available showing a valid rabies vaccination.

Get to the terminal with plenty of time to spare. If you have to ship your pet because of her size, make sure you are booked on the same flight. Choose flights that will accommodate the temperature extremes: afternoon flights are better in the winter.

Do not feed your pet for four to six hours prior to air travel. Small amounts of water can be given before the trip. If possible, put ice cubes in the water tray attached to the inside of your pet’s kennel.

Fit your pet with a collar that can’t get caught in carrier doors. Affix two pieces of identification on the collar – a permanent ID with your name and home address and telephone number and a temporary travel ID with the address and telephone number where you or a contact person can be reached. Affix a travel label to the carrier with your name, permanent address and telephone number, final destination, and where you or a contact person can be reached as soon as the flight arrives. Don’t forget to put “Live Animals” and arrow stickers on the crate.

Ask the airline if you can watch your pet being loaded and unloaded into the cargo hold. When you board the plane, notify the captain and at least one flight attendant that your pet is traveling in the cargo hold. If the captain knows that pets are on board, he or she may take special precautions.

When you arrive at your destination, open the carrier as soon as you are in a safe place and examine your pet. If anything seems wrong, take your pet to a veterinarian immediately.

Give your pet at least a month before your flight to become familiar with the travel carrier. Permit your pet to explore the carrier. Place your pet’s food dish inside the carrier and confine him or her to the carrier for brief periods. This will minimize her stress during travel.

You may have to buy a special hard a carrier approved by federal regulations. Your pet’s carrier should be durable and smooth-edged with opaque sides, a grille door, and several ventilation holes on each of the four sides. Choose a carrier with a secure door and door latch. Select a carrier that has enough room to permit your animal to sit and lie down but is not large enough to allow your pet to be tossed about during travel.

Do not ship pug-nosed dogs or cats such as Pekingese, Chow Chows, and Persians in the cargo hold. These breeds have short nasal passages that leave them vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke in cargo holds.

For more information go to the Federal Aviation Administration site (www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_pets/)

By Train or Bus
Commercial train services (e.g. Amtrak) do not allow pets onboard. The only exception is for service animals. As for Greyhound, the irony is that dogs and cats are not allowed either. Again, only service animals are permitted.

By Car
Your dog is safest in the back seat. Use either a special harness for our dog that hooks on to a seat belt, a doggy car seat that elevates your dog so he or she can watch out the window, or a leash that attaches to the seat belt. Or you could crate your dog if you have space in you car, or get a dog barrier. It is not recommended you let your dog hang out the window, especially on highways. A stray pebble could hit them and the rushing air could hurt their eyes. As for cats, keep them in their carrier.

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You can pick up a travel harness at Orvis

Orvis Company Store
522 5th Avenue (Corner of 44th & 5th)
Tel: 212-827-0698

Make sure your pet will be welcome everywhere you plan to stop. Many hotels and motels allow pets, so do your homework first, and find out the rules, before planning your itinerary. A great resource is www.dogfriendly.com which lists all the accommodations and parks that welcome pooches.

You don’t want to expose your pet to any more risks than necessary, so make sure her shots are current before traveling. Be sure to bring a health certificate and proof of vaccination with you.

Invest in a good collar with securely attached ID tags. Include your name, address, phone number, as well as contact info for your vet. Leave your itinerary with your veterinarian in case they should receive a call that your cat has been found. Tattooing and micro-chipping are a plus.

For continuity in your pet’s routine, bring a supply of his regular food and water. Don’t forget toys and bedding.

Originally published December 2006
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