SOURCE: Emergency Animal Hospital of Northwest Austin

December 11, 2011 10:30 ET

Emergency Animal Hospital Urges Preparation When Flying With Pets

AUSTIN, TX--(Marketwire - Dec 11, 2011) - As the holiday travel season begins, the emergency veterinarians at the Emergency Animal Hospital of Northwest Austin advise pet owners about steps they can take to prepare their pet for an airline flight. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the vast majority of pets that fly do so safely, but there are still tragic incidents every year where pets are killed, injured or even lost when traveling. The Austin emergency vet clinic has treated travel-related heat and cold injuries, complications from sedatives and breathing problems, especially for short-nosed dogs.

Emergency veterinarian Dr. Scott Johnson counsels pet owners to book the most direct flight possible, and to pay the required fees so the pet's cargo space is reserved well ahead of time. "Airlines have limited space available for transporting animals, so book well ahead of time. We also recommend going to the cargo loading area personally a few days before flying to meet the people who will be handling your pet," says Dr. Johnson.

The 24 hour veterinarian also recommends making the pet's kennel as comfortable and safe as possible. According to the veterinarian, the kennel should be big enough for the pet to comfortably stand, turn around and lie down in. Dr. Johnson advises owners to line kennels with three layers of the blue-backed soak-up pads used in hospitals. These are often called "Chux." A well-fitting kennel pad should go on top of those. The kennel should also be fitted with a dog-sized drip water bottle that minimizes spillage, but enables the pet to drink when needed.

Many of the major airlines suggest that pet owners securely tape a zip-top bag to the top of the kennel that includes the pet's leash, collar, Rabies certificate, health certificates, contact information, microchip information and any other typed care instructions. Pet owners should contact the airline directly for requirements. Emergency veterinarian Dr. Johnson also recommends that a serving of the pet's food be included separately in the event of a delay.

For flight day, the after-hours veterinarian at the Austin emergency animal hospital says that owners and pets should arrive at the airport four hours before take-off. "We advise pet owners to try to feed the pet a small meal about an hour before they need to turn him or her over to the cargo loading staff, and spend as much time as possible walking outside beforehand. We caution against using sedatives, but there is one herbal solution called Rescue Remedy that can help calm a pet's nerves safely if given in their water before loading time. Instructions for further doses should be included in the zip-top bag with the other documents."

The emergency veterinarian stresses, however, that owners should find a way for their pets to stay home with family, friends, or a reputable pet boarding establishment instead. "Flying is incredibly traumatic for pets, and should really be avoided if at all possible for their safety. But if you must, be sure to prepare well ahead of time."

More information on pet care tips at the Emergency Animal Hospital of Northwest Austin can be found on their website at

Contact Information

  • Emergency Animal Hospital of Northwest Austin
    Austin, TX