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Is flying a dog safe?

Over the last couple of weeks there have been many inquiries as to whether flying a dog is safe. Many people are misinformed and lack all the facts about flying a dog. Professional pet shippers, airlines and veterinarians alike have done extensive research about the safety of flying a dog in a commercial airplane. This is why there are so many restrictions in place for flying dogs, including seasonal bans, crate size requirements, restricted breeds and health certificates. Professional pet shippers, like members of IPATA (International Pet and Animal Transportation Association), dedicate their lives to transporting pets safely. This is why professional pet shippers will also advise customers about ways to reduce risk factors like scheduling the most direct flights, feeding and exercise guidelines before their dog travels, etc.

The following are a few explanations for concerns many pet parents have about flying a dog.

Is flying a dog safe?

Flying your pet is as safe as flying yourself. However, pets are required to have a health certificate to fly. This health certificate is issued by a veterinarian a week before travel which means that potential health risks are assessed, greatly reducing illness incidents. In some cases veterinarians will suggest lifestyle changes for the pets to reduce risk factors for illness such as putting the dog on a diet if the dog is overweight.

Are dogs in cargo treated like luggage?

Dogs travel underneath the plane but in a separate climate controlled and pressurized compartment, they breathe the same air the human passengers breathe. Cargo dogs are typically the last loaded on the plane and the first off to reduce exposure to inclement weather.

Can flying a dog cause bloat?

Bloat is a fairly common condition in dogs that can be dangerous. Gastric dilation and volvulus syndrome (GDV), more commonly referred to as gastric torsion or bloat, is a disease in dogs in which the animal’s stomach dilates and then rotates, or twists, around its short axis. Some factors that are believed to contribute to the development of GDV include ingestion of excessive amounts of food or water, delayed emptying of the gastrointestinal system, and too much activity after eating. [1]Though veterinarians are unsure of all the causes of bloat, flying is not considered one of them.

Can flying a dog cause heatstroke?

Heat stroke, is a form of non-fever hyperthermia that occurs when heat-dissipating mechanisms of the body cannot accommodate excessive external heat. Typically associated with temperature of 106° F (41° C) or higher.[2]  All the pet friendly airlines used by IPATA members have a rule in place that states they will not fly pets when temperatures at any point during their relocation are expected to be under 10 or over 85 degrees F. This is why you will find most airlines won’t fly a pet in the Northern hemisphere during the hot summer months and at some points during winter. During transit, flying dogs are kept in air conditioned hold buildings, such as the ARK at JFK, and then transported in air conditioned vehicles to board the plane.

Dogs should be sedated?

Veterinarians have found that the risks of sedating a pet for travel far outweigh the benefits. Flying can be stressful for pets, but sedation increases the risk of breathing and vascular problems.  This is why airlines no longer accept sedated dogs onboard their aircraft. Pet shipping experts have found that dogs are a lot more comfortable during their relocations when the pet parents have taken the time to get their dogs used to their travel crate. Dogs that are excited about going in their crate for car rides or even just napping in their crate are usually very comfortable during transport.

For any questions or concerns about transporting your precious pet, please contact out pet shipping experts who are glad to help.

[1] http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/digestive/c_dg_gastric_dilation_volvulus_syndrome

[2] http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/cardiovascular/c_dg_heat_stroke

This story was written by Agatha Weisz

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