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Post  sleepyme123 on Sun May 06, 2012 10:44 am

Travelling with pets can be a nerve-racking adventure, but preparing ahead - from checking out the rules of your airline before you book to visiting the vet, is a strategic way to guarantee that you and your furry friend will be fine at 35,000 feet in the air. Cheapflights has compiled a list of the top ten tips for flying with pets to help owners and their four-legged friends fly stress-free.

1. Calculate the costs
The charges associated with carrying pets onboard – whether checked or in the cabin – add up quickly. Research airlines’ different rates ahead of time and factor the canine and feline fees into the total cost of airfare – both yours and your pet’s – before pressing book.

2. Call the airline
Start by checking your airline’s website for regulations, but also get confirmation that you and your pet are set to fly. Many airlines limit the total number of animals allowed within the cabin on each flight, so it’s important that a reservation be made sooner rather than later –and confirmed as soon as possible.

3. Rehearse nearby
First-time flyers are sometimes overwhelmed – justifiably – by a 35,000-foot ascent, so it’s important to schedule trial runs before the big day. Practice with a car, bus or train journey to familiarise it with the movement and the crowds.

4. Visit the vet
Currently, the Pet Travel Scheme allows pet owners to take their dogs, cats and ferrets to other countries in the European Union and some non-EU countries (there’s about 50 of them - from Andorra to Vanuatu including the US, Australia, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates), and return to the UK without the need for quarantine. If you’re taking your pet to countries outside of this safe zone, you'll need to comply with the rules of that country. You may need to get your pet vaccinated and a blood sample taken to ensure that they are immunised adequately. There may also be a need for the pet to stay in quarantine for six months. However, these rules are changing in January 2012 to bring the UK in line with the rest of the EU.

5. Prepare the kennel
Ensure that the kennel you purchased when your pet was tiny is still roomy enough for them. Can they stand up without hitting their head on the top of it? And does it comply with IATA regulations? The airline should run these checks before accepting your pet for travel. In the vast majority of cases your pet will travel in the aircraft hold, not in the cabin with you. Seek out a spill-proof water container, a container for food and enough absorbent bedding for the flight.

6. Attach ID tags
In the unlikely event that you get separated from your furry friend, it’s important to mark your pet – and pet carrier – with proper ID tags. Attach to the kennel a note with your flight number, contact information and your pet’s name. Do the same on your pet’s collar; remember that a reachable phone number is the most important detail. You should have your pet microchipped for easiest identification (although some countries will accept a tattoo).

7. Exercise the day before
Spoil your dog or cat the day before travelling with extra exercise, the goal being to wear them out. For dogs, that means longer walks and high-energy activities; for cats, a few extra games of Claw the Rope could do. Exhaust your travel companion so that they are calm – and tired – for the flight.

8. Pack food and water
Just like us, dogs and cats get dehydrated on flights. A handy tip: freeze water before you leave home to ensure your four-legged friend has water in his dish by the time you both pass through security.

9. Withhold food
This might sound silly, given the previous tip. Of course you can pack food and snacks for your animal’s voyage, but it’s also important to avoid giving any edibles to your pet for a matter of hours before departure. Nerves are a guarantee, and not just for finicky felines. Queasiness, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be.

10. Prepare for the unexpected
Flexibility and patience are virtues that every traveller should possess. The same holds especially true when flying with pets. Whether your flight is delayed, your dog gets sick mid-flight, or your cat decides he can’t wait for the kitty litter – taking pets up in the air can be tough. Bottom line: Plan for the worst and expect the best. Bon voyage!

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