Make traveling with your pet smooth and easy

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If you tend to travel with your pets, here are some simple and effective ways you can keep them happy, healthy and safe. VCA Kapolei Animal Hospital Manager Liko Propios and Dr. Jenna Wallace shared some easy tips with Hawaii Now viewers.

The carrier is very important. Different airlines may have different guidelines on what they require in terms of the different types of carriers, but a good guideline is that the carrier should be large enough for your pet to walk into, turn around, and be able to stand without touching the top of the carrier.

In most cases, the type of carrier used depends on where in the plane your pet will be traveling. Most pets that travel in the cabin will travel in a soft sided carrier with mesh sides to allow for adequate ventilation. These types of carriers make it easier for it to be safely stored under the seat in front of you. However, larger pets will be transported in cargo. In this case, hard sided plastic carriers are preferred due to their strength and durability. Make sure you get a carrier that’s big enough for your animal. And, most airlines do not allow pets to be removed from their carriers in the cabin during the flight.

Water is important for your pet’s health and their comfort and should not be withheld from them. Once you get settled in and the plane has taken off, VCA Vets recommends you provide your pet with a small bowl of water in the corner of their carrier. Pets that fly in cargo should also have water dishes that can be attached to the inside of the cage door, which should be filled with water prior to departure. Food is not as essential, unless your flight is very long, 8+ hours. Experts usually recommend feeding the animal a good meal a couple hours before departure with enough time for a good walk to allow your pet to “go” one last time before you have to put them in the carrier. If your pet is flying with you in the cabin, you can pack them a small snack. For pets in the cargo, you can also use the attachable dishes to leave food in the carrier. Be aware that some pets will need to defecate after eating a meal so the best way to avoid this is to abstain from feeding during the flight.

You should absolutely visit your veterinarian before you and your pet travel. In Hawaii, if you plan on traveling to the Mainland with your pet and then return into the state you should start consulting your veterinarian about the necessary vaccines and tests at least 4 months prior to your anticipated travel date.

Some airports may have designated areas for pets during layovers, but you will need to research the specific airport you are going to for details.

Ideally, all pets should be up to date on all their vaccines. When traveling to the Mainland it is also very important to get your pet vaccinated for rabies. Hawaii has very strict quarantine laws so make sure you work closely with your veterinarian to ensure your pet has the necessary vaccines and tests required.   For all pets traveling to the Mainland, it is important that you get a health certificate from your veterinarian. You should also have a copy of your pet’s rabies certificate with you when you travel.

Identification is also important when traveling. ID tags are nice, but the best permanent form of ID for your pet is a microchip. It is also a good idea to attach your pet’s rabies tag to their collar when traveling.

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