How to make travelling with a pet easier
Living on a small island is wonderful but it does mean that we tend to travel with our pets more than people do in other countries. This can be quite the challenge, but there are a few ways to help make travel planning easier.
First, check out the entry requirements of the country you are hoping to travel to.
Every country has different rules in this respect, and they frequently change, so always log on to the government website and make sure you know what is needed, and if the type of animal you are travelling with is permitted in the country.
Secondly, you may have everything you need to get your pet out of Bermuda, but if you want to come back in, you will need to check those requirements also.
They can easily be found on our government website. Once you know your pet has all the requirements met, you can schedule your flight.
Airlines vary in their policies to pet travel. Some will allow animals in the cabin and others will only allow them in the hold.
Check with the airline at the time of booking so you don’t get any surprises. You will also need to purchase a suitably sized carrier for your pet, something that will be comfortable for them throughout the journey.
If they are travelling within the cabin, this carrier will need to fit under the seat in front.
I would always recommend getting the travel carrier well ahead of time so your pet can become familiar with it and use a blanket or towel that smells of home, so they feel more relaxed.
Some people put a pee pad on top in case of accidents. Your pet needs to feel comfortable in the carrier so a little preparation work on this will go a long way.
Have a veterinary health check performed on your pet before you travel to be sure you know any issues they might have during the trip.
This is also a good time to discuss flea and tick requirements, which vary from place to place and can really affect your pet’s health.
The vet will go over your travel documents and make sure your pet has everything they need to travel out of and back into Bermuda.
On the day of travel, try to keep their routine as normal as possible. Feed a slightly smaller meal to prevent travel sickness and have extra pee pads and water handy for when they need them.
Most pets travel well but there are certainly a few who hate every minute of it. In these cases, if travel is for vacation only, it may be best to leave them with a reliable person at home rather than put them through the stress of travel.
Be very careful with the fastenings on your travel carrier. There was just recently in the news a cat who escaped from their carrier during a flight and the poor flight attendant had to chase him mid-flight down the aisle to capture him.
I’m sure this was scary for them both, and for the other passengers.
Aim to keep travel times down to a minimum when travelling with pets. Limit layovers and take the most direct and quickest route you can.
Once you have arrived at your destination remember your pet will not know where they are, so keep your dog on a leash when outdoors and your cat in a small room with windows closed until they have settled in.
I am frequently asked if pets can be sedated whilst they travel. This is not allowed on airlines as the animal can easily stop breathing if not being carefully monitored when sedated.
My best advice is to always prepare thoroughly when travelling with a pet. Do your homework and try to make the experience as stress-free as possible for your jet-set pet.
• Lucy Richardson graduated from Edinburgh University in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband, Mark. They live at the practice with their two children, Ray and Stella, and their dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. Dr Lucy is also the FEI national head veterinarian for Bermuda
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