The Future of Pet Travel 

Pets and their parents are traveling with increasing frequency. While studies indicate pet parents travel less frequently than their non-pet-owning counterparts, more of them are becoming comfortable with long-distance travel. Surprisingly, the pet travel industry has not progressed in the wake of this skyrocketing popularity. Airlines have adjusted their pet policies to reflect new and persisting dangers, but little has been done to expand the industry.

Though we have yet to see a lot of significant changes to pet travel, we predict they are just beyond the horizon. The tide is beginning to turn for curated pet travel experiences, and we can only expect technology, manufacturing, and amenities to progress at a similar pace. We peeked into our pet travel crystal ball (i.e. spent some time researching) and predict the following trends and changes in the coming years.  

 

Hotels and Airlines Introduce More Pet Amenities 

Whether they need to cater to existing guests or attract a new demographic, hotels and airlines are doing what they can to sweeten the pet travel pot. Airlines are beginning to reevaluate their existing pet policies to make travel safer, more accessible, and less stressful. United Airlines recently conducted an internal audit of their pet policy and imposed several new safety measures. Air India recently allowed a dog to travel in business class—something most airlines prohibit, as an animal’s presence may disrupt high-paying flyers. The tide is beginning to turn, and we’re excited to see how airlines adapt to the increasing number of pet passengers. 

Similarly, hotels have begun to capitalize on the importance of pet-friendly policies and amenities. Walt Disney World, which recently implemented a dog-friendly hotel pilot program, has extended the scheme. La Quinta, a popular hotel brand, has extended its pet-friendly amenities to more than 700 locations in the United States. Several resorts have introduced “yappy hour” to their weekly programming, and pet-friendly restaurants are appearing across the country. In the next decade, we expect to see most national hotel chains offering a variety of pet amenities.  

 

Pet Travel Safety Becomes a Priority 

While pet travel safety has always been a priority for airlines and passengers, pet parents are beginning to understand the importance of properly securing pups in vehicles. While pet travel is becoming more frequent, many parents are seeking alternatives to flying. In some cases, this might mean a long-distance road trip. Even if you do not plan to take your pup on a 50mi+ ride, everyday trips to the park and vet can pose a risk to the animal’s health. As this issue gets more coverage, we expect to see a greater push toward pet car safety with more brands rolling out multi-use seatbelts and safety harnesses 

 

Online Retailers Get Cheaper 

While we argue that there are still benefits to shopping at brick-and-mortar stores for pet products, e-Commerce is beginning to turn up the heat. According to a Packaged Facts 2018 survey of U.S. pet owners, 37% of online pet shoppers indicated “I am buying pet products online more than I used to.” Online retailers stock a huge selection of products online. Without the burden of physical stores, they can pass the savings to their customers. However, some brick-and-mortar stores are keeping pace with online-only retailers. PetSmart recently introduced a line of online-only deals to draw more customers. With this added pressure, we expect online businesses to continue dropping prices and seeking cheaper manufacturing options.  

 

Smart Devices Aid Concerned Pet Parents 

Pet travel is a nerve-wracking experience. Unless your pet qualifies for in-cabin transport, your furry friend will need to fly in the aircraft’s cargo hold. The inability to check on the animal during a flight is a great stressor for many pet parents. Similarly, pet shipping is a notoriously stressful experience. Most people are overwhelmed when packages are lost, and the thought of losing a pet in transit is an enormous anxiety. Some airlines are already working to address this. Delta, for example, introduced a GPS On-Demand tracking program, which allows pet parents to monitor their animals throughout the journey in real-time. Virgin America prioritizes same-flight cargo shipments, and Alaska Airlines has a Fur-st Class program, which properly educates team members on the basics of animal care. As more animals take to the skies, we expect airlines to keep pace for stressed pet parents. 

While our predictions may take years to come to fruition, retailers, hotels, and airlines are already beginning to take notice of increased demand for pet-friendly amenities. Pet travel is only going to become easier, more affordable, and more convenient—we just have to be patient. In the meantime, researching your airlines and airports ahead of your trip is a great way to ameliorate the burden of pet travel.

 

The Future of Pet Travel 

Pets and their parents are traveling with increasing frequency. While studies indicate pet parents travel less frequently than their non-pet-owning counterparts, more of them are becoming comfortable with long-distance travel. Surprisingly, the pet travel industry has not progressed in the wake of this skyrocketing popularity. Airlines have adjusted their pet policies to reflect new and persisting dangers, but little has been done to expand the industry. 

Though we have yet to see a lot of significant changes to pet travel, we predict they are just beyond the horizon. The tide is beginning to turn for curated pet travel experiences, and we can only expect technology, manufacturing, and amenities to progress at a similar pace. We peeked into our pet travel crystal ball (i.e. spent some time researching) and predict the following trends and changes in the coming years.  

 

Hotels and Airlines Introduce More Pet Amenities 

Whether they need to cater to existing guests or attract a new demographic, hotels and airlines are doing what they can to sweeten the pet travel pot. Airlines are beginning to reevaluate their existing pet policies to make travel safer, more accessible, and less stressful. United Airlines recently conducted an internal audit of their pet policy and imposed several new safety measures. Air India recently allowed a dog to travel in business class—something most airlines prohibit, as an animal’s presence may disrupt high-paying flyers. The tide is beginning to turn, and we’re excited to see how airlines adapt to the increasing number of pet passengers. 

Similarly, hotels have begun to capitalize on the importance of pet-friendly policies and amenities. Walt Disney World, which recently implemented a dog-friendly hotel pilot program, has extended the scheme. La Quinta, a popular hotel brand, has extended its pet-friendly amenities to more than 700 locations in the United States. Several resorts have introduced “yappy hour” to their weekly programming, and pet-friendly restaurants are appearing across the country. In the next decade, we expect to see most national hotel chains offering a variety of pet amenities.  

 

Pet Travel Safety Becomes a Priority 

While pet travel safety has always been a priority for airlines and passengers, pet parents are beginning to understand the importance of properly securing pups in vehicles. While pet travel is becoming more frequent, many parents are seeking alternatives to flying. In some cases, this might mean a long-distance road trip. Even if you do not plan to take your pup on a 50mi+ ride, everyday trips to the park and vet can pose a risk to the animal’s health. As this issue gets more coverage, we expect to see a greater push toward pet car safety with more brands rolling out multi-use seatbelts and safety harnesses 

 

Online Retailers Get Cheaper 

While we argue that there are still benefits to shopping at brick-and-mortar stores for pet products, e-Commerce is beginning to turn up the heat. According to a Packaged Facts 2018 survey of U.S. pet owners, 37% of online pet shoppers indicated “I am buying pet products online more than I used to.” Online retailers stock a huge selection of products online. Without the burden of physical stores, they can pass the savings to their customers. However, some brick-and-mortar stores are keeping pace with online-only retailers. PetSmart recently introduced a line of online-only deals to draw more customers. With this added pressure, we expect online businesses to continue dropping prices and seeking cheaper manufacturing options.  

 

Smart Devices Aid Concerned Pet Parents 

Pet travel is a nerve-wracking experience. Unless your pet qualifies for in-cabin transport, your furry friend will need to fly in the aircraft’s cargo hold. The inability to check on the animal during a flight is a great stressor for many pet parents. Similarly, pet shipping is a notoriously stressful experience. Most people are overwhelmed when packages are lost, and the thought of losing a pet in transit is an enormous anxiety. Some airlines are already working to address this. Delta, for example, introduced a GPS On-Demand tracking program, which allows pet parents to monitor their animals throughout the journey in real-time. Virgin America prioritizes same-flight cargo shipments, and Alaska Airlines has a Fur-st Class program, which properly educates team members on the basics of animal care. As more animals take to the skies, we expect airlines to keep pace for stressed pet parents. 

While our predictions may take years to come to fruition, retailers, hotels, and airlines are already beginning to take notice of increased demand for pet-friendly amenities. Pet travel is only going to become easier, more affordable, and more convenient—we just have to be patient. In the meantime, researching your airlines and airports ahead of your trip is a great way to ameliorate the burden of pet travel.  

 

 

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Airline-Approved Carriers of the Future 

Pet travel is a practice that’s been growing in popularity for many years and shows no signs of slowing down. Around 60% of dog owners transport their pet by car at least once each month. While long-distance pet travel is less frequent, it’s still more popular than ever before. Thirty percent of pet owners reported transporting their pets long distances, up from 14% in 2013. Pet adoption numbers are up, which means pet travel is more popular than ever. The formerly niche industry is having to keep up with growing demand and the result has been specialized airline pet policies, added travel options, and lower travel rates. 

While many facets of pet travel are progressing, one has stayed firmly stagnant: technology. Airline-approved pet carriers have remained relatively unchanged for the past decade. To an extent, we understand this; if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Pet carriers continue to keep animals safe and secure during their time in transit. There are, however, many aspects of pet carriers that hinder pet parents’ ability to travel. The most prohibitive? Weight. 

 

Weight Limits for Airline Pet Travel

Most commercial airlines impose size and weight restrictions on traveling pets. The sweet spot sits between 15lb and 20lb. Animals in carriers that weigh more than the maximum limit are not permitted to travel. Unfortunately, pet carriers cut significantly into that weight requirement, often weighing between 3lbs and 7lbs. This disqualifies some of America’s most popular dog breeds from most commercial flights. For example, a standard Dachshund will weigh between 16lbs and 19lbs. Unless the owner scours the internet in search of an ultralightweight carrier, this small companion breed will have trouble flying. Only toy breeds, such as Chihuahuas, Lhasa Apso, and Miniature Poodles, can consistently fit within the in-cabin guidelines. Even larger cats are hindered by the weight limit.  

So, if the maximum weight is so low, why aren’t pet carrier manufacturers scrambling to lower the overall weight of their products? The most lightweight carriers on the market weigh around 3lbs and are made of soft material, such as polyester and fleece—not the most durable materials. Brands like ibiyaya are working to decrease the overall weight of pet carriers (their lightest weighs just 1.37lbs), but high costs make these products inaccessible to most pet parents.  

 

The Next Generation of Pet Carriers

Here’s the most frustrating part of this discrepancy: the perfect lightweight material exists. Dyneema, an ultralightweight fabric, has a strength-to-weight ratio around ten times stronger than steel. Plus, you can already purchase this material in a range of products—just not airline-approved pet carriers. Current lightweight technology is employed in a variety of travel scenarios, from backpacking to back country exploration. Plus, it’s not expensive to make; Dyneema and other ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene substances is relatively cheap to manufacture 

That said, here’s where we see the future of airline-approved pet carriers: As the demand for lightweight carriers grows, manufacturers will begin to utilize existing lightweight technology. Pet travel is growing each year, and parents with larger breeds (or overweight pets) will continue searching for solutions. Relatively inexpensive production costs will drive prices down once enough brands get on the lightweight bandwagon. This “race to the bottom” will finally make this material accessible to most consumers.  

 

Alternate Solutions for Increasing Pet Travel Options 

There is another potential outcome. Airlines themselves may feel pressured to increase the maximum weight limit. Pet-centric travel planning and pet amenities are quickly increasing in popularity, and we would not be surprised to see airlines try to cash in on the trend. Certain American Airlines flights already have pet-friendly business class pods; we expect to see more of the same in the coming years.  

Regardless of which option becomes reality, here’s the good news: lightweight and airline-approved pet carriers are in our future. We may need to wait for the market to catch up to pet parent trends, but we expect to see ultralightweight pet travel gear become a strong and sustainable trend.  

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Our Top Picks for Pet Bedding and Seat Covers

Pet travel preparation doesn’t stop with finding an airline-approved pet carrier or kennel. You want to ensure your pet is comfortable for the duration of the journey, whether he’s with you in the cabin or in the cargo hold. Shopping for pet bedding and seat covers can be as difficult as finding the carrier itself; you want material that is both soft and absorbent, but you don’t want the container to feel cramped at any point during the trip. Solutions do exist, and we’ve found a few items that stand apart from the rest.

 

Absorbent Pad; DryFur Pet Carrier Insert Pads

Sometimes you want a little more absorption security. Maybe your carrier already comes with a removable liner, or perhaps your pup has a habit of reliving himself in stressful situations. For added safety, we recommend investing in an insertable dry pad. These pads are reusable, inexpensive, and sized to fit nearly any type of carrier or kennel. We prefer the Pet Carrier Insert Pads from DryFur. These have a rigid code to keep the pad from bunching when wet, allowing the absorptive material to stay in place throughout the flight.

To use, simply slide this pad directly under your carrier or kennel’s bedding. If you’re choosing to forego bedding (maybe you’re just taking a quick trip to the vet), the pad is soft and plush enough for animals to remain comfortable. Chemicals in the pad work to eliminate potential smell, which is perfect for the cramped quarters of an airplane cabin. If you want added security or a no-spills guarantee, an absorbent pad is a low-cost solution.

Pet Carrier Bedding; Reversible Paw Print Pet Bed

Pet carrier bedding is one of the most difficult items to shop for. You want the bed to be comfortable, but not so plush that it makes the container feel cramped. You want it to be absorbent, but you don’t want that quality to hinder its comfort. When shopping for an in-carrier pet bed, we recommend looking for liners and pillows no more than three or four inches high/deep. Depending on your dog’s size, this will allow them to both stand up and sit down comfortably.

If you’re looking for something small, comfortable, and inexpensive, try the Reversible Paw Print Bed from Midwest Homes for Pets. It comes in six separate sizes to ensure a great fit, and the soft synthetic material makes a comfortable seat for your furry friend. The material itself, though not hyper absorptive, is machine washable and dryer safe, allowing you to easily use and reuse this helpful item. This is also a comfortable option for pet parents looking for small, washable peds for the home.

Cargo Kennel Bedding; Polo-Zippered Insertable and Removable Pillow

If your pet is traveling in the cargo hold of an airplane, you’ll likely need something a bit larger and more durable. You’ll want something with enough absorptive power to prevent long-term messes, but you don’t want to sacrifice comfort on cross-country flights. For cargo kennel bedding, we prefer the Polo-Zippered Insertable and Removable Pillow from touchdog. This item features a zip-open removable and machine-washable inner cushion, making for easy cleanups and reuse. The bed is made of a nylon-cotton blended exterior and a poly-cotton blended interior, allowing the pillow to absorb any and all messes that may occur in transit. This bed is soft enough to comfortably lie down but sturdy enough for your dog to stand.

The Polo-Zippered Insertable and Removable Pillow comes in two sizes (LG and XL) and four colors. However, if you’re worried about weight, be sure to test this out before flight day. The product weighs just over two pounds; that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it could make a difference in how much you pay for cargo travel.

Travel-Friendly Bedding; Chuckit! Travel Bed

If you’re bringing a furry friend on vacation, comfort supplies don’t stop with carrier and kennel beds. You may want to bring an additional bed for the hotel. Of course, you can always reuse the travel beds, but they may be saturated with drool and urine. If you don’t have access to an adequate washer or dryer, this could result in a build-up of smell and bacteria. You don’t want Fido relaxing on that for the duration of your trip.

Instead, opt for an inexpensive and travel-friendly bed. We like the Chuckit! Travel Bed, which folds up into a portable sack for optimal utility. The fabric is machine-washable, breathable, dries quickly, and is very soft. It measures 30”x39”, fitting most dogs. The bed itself is around four inches thick, creating a comfortable base, and the entire bed and sack weigh just over one pound. If you’re worried about fitting this into your carry-on, the sack has a strap for you to tie it to the outside of your backpack or suitcase.

Car Seat Covers; Pet Front Set Cover and 600D Waterproof Pet Car Seat Covers

Traveling often means renting a car or utilizing rideshare services. Though both Uber and Lyft allow animals in their vehicles, the decision to allow a dog into a car is made by the driver. As a precaution, you may want to bring a car seat cover. This item will protect the driver’s car from shedding, drooling, and an accidental bathroom break. If you’re using rideshare services, we recommend the Pet Front Seat Cover from BarksBar. The material is soft, waterproof, and folds up for easy travel. Additionally, the simple design can be quickly installed, which is very important if you have an impatient Uber driver.

Some pet parents will opt to rent a car on trips. Most rental car companies will allow animals in their cars, but many require drivers to use seat covers. If you’re looking for a travel-friendly but durable cover, we like the 600D Waterproof Pet Car Seat Cover from Bonve Pet. This Hammock-style cover protects the entire back seat, and the waterproof design is leak-proof. Additionally, the cover comes with two seatbelts for maximum safety.

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Six Essential Items for Your Doggy Go-Bag

Your pet flight experience will differ depending on your airline, airport, and your pet’s method of travel. Despite these variables, pet parents should always carry and pack specific items in their doggy go-bag. If you’re heading to the airport with your furry friend, you should take along a few essential accessories. From first-aid kits to food and water bowl, these items will ensure your pet’s flight is both safe and comfortable. Below, we have listed the seven essential toys and accessories to have packed and ready to go for your big travel day. Pet parents can modify the list to suit their animal’s needs, but carefully consider the items you bring; they might take up some space, but they will significantly improve your pet’s journey.

 

Dog Travel Bag; Day Away Tote

If you’re traveling with a furry friend, you’ve likely spent hours agonizing over the perfect carrier. While considering these options, you likely neglected to find a carrier for your pet’s belongings—food, accessories, and other essential travel items. There is a wealth of options available online, but we like the Day Away Tote from Overland Dog Gear. This lightweight tote includes several pockets of varying sizes, an adjustable padded shoulder strap for added comfort, and a lined carrier can for dog food and treats. This polyester bag is under $30 and comes in three colors.

If you’re in the market for something a bit larger, consider this Weekend Tote Organizer Bag from Hilike. It is slightly more expensive, but the bag provides multiple pockets of various sizes, dog food carriers (up to 30 cups), and silicone collapsible bowls.

 

Collar and Leash; TSA Fast Pass Leash & Collar

Unless you are traveling with a service animal, your pet will likely need to stay in his carrier while at the airport. He may only leave the carrier while utilizing a pet relief area or passing through security. When this happens, he must remain on a leash. A new, busy, and loud environment is enough to scare even the most curious pup, so investing in a great leash and collar is necessary before travel. We like the TSA Fast Pass Leash & Collar, which is guaranteed to not set off metal detectors. This allows for hassle-free airport inspections and often eliminates the need for additional pat-downs. This leash and collar system features an easy secure snap buckle—not a breakaway buckle, as most collars and leashes have. It is adjustable and fits both cats and dogs.

 

First-Aid Kit; Safe Travels First Aid Kit and ThunderCap Calming Cap

It is impossible to anticipate when an accident will strike, but if it’s on a plane or in the airport, you want to be prepared. Bringing a first-aid kit, even a rudimentary one, is essential for safe pet transit. A standard kit, such as that offered by Johnson & Johnson, will do the trick—it contains assorted adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointments, and soft-gauze bandages. You should also consider adding a muzzle to your pet’s kit. This will prevent biting and allow the animal to calm down. We like the ThunderCap Calming Cap, a behavior management aid designed to decrease a dog’s anxiety or aggression in high-stress situations.

 

Food and Water Bowls; COMSUN Collapsible Dog Bowl and Petmate Kennel Water Pet Cup

Your pet should be able to eat and drink while in transit, and it is the responsibility of the parent to provide food and water bowls. Collapsible silicone bowls, such as the COMSUN Collapsible Dog Bowl, are the most popular among frequent travelers. They fold up to store easily in any bag, and they are easy to clean and maintain. The non-slip bottom provides enough grip for your pup to eat and drink without the bowl sliding around, and a handy carabiner clip delivers additional convenience.

If your pet is traveling in cargo, you will need to purchase attachable food and water bowls. We like the Petmate Kennel Water Pet Cup, a durable system designed to attach to the kennel’s door for easy access. However, if you are looking for this type of bowl system, we recommend purchasing it alongside your kennel. This will allow you to ensure that it fits the kennel and remains sturdy in transit.

 

Food, Water, and Treats; Zuke’s Enhance Calming Chicken Formula

Before your flight, pack a couple servings of your pup’s favorite food in a Tupperware container or plastic bag. When you pass through airport security, purchase a bottle of water or fill up a container at a water fountain. Keep these items with you at all times for the duration of your journey—you never know when hunger stress might strike. Remember to bring food and treats that your dog will recognize; trying a new food on the day of a flight is never a good idea. Similarly, you should pack your pet’s favorite treats, but consider adding a calming treat to the mix. We like the Enhance Calming Chicken Formula from Zuke’s. This variety includes passion flower, valerian, chamomile, hawthorn, and L-theanine to ease stress, whining, excessive panting, and other nervous behavior.

 

Toys; Mammoth 100% Cotton Dog Rope Toy

Toys and blankets provide comfort to animals in times of stress. If possible, grab your pup’s favorite toy before heading out the door. The familiarity of a chew toy will help calm the animal in anxious situations. However, you must ensure the toys you pack are safe. You will not always be able to supervise your dog during transit, and you do not want to risk accidental asphyxiation if a small part comes loose. To that end, you will not want to pack toys that bounce, fly, or spring. Instead, opt for chew toys, such as the Mammoth Cotton Dog Rope Toy, which is built to withstand even the most aggressive chewers.

 

Pet parents should carefully consider each item on this list before leaving for the airport. If you choose not to include something, you should have a great, legitimate reason for neglecting to bring it—”not enough space” is rarely an acceptable excuse. When packed correctly, these items should easily fit into your carry-on or dog travel bag, adding just a few pounds of weight to your luggage. Remember that your airport is unlikely to have an in-terminal pet store, and forgetting an item could spell disaster for an anxious animal. However, with the right preparation and packing, your journey should be both safe and comfortable.

 

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Creative Ways to Use Your Pet Store when Preparing to Travel

Pet stores are excellent resources for purchasing required materials for your upcoming flight. However, pet parents should fully utilize pet stores before a trip. Sure, customers can buy crates and kennels, or perhaps stock up on treats and toys. However, pet owners should treat pet stores as general knowledge and specialty service resources—not just as places to buy a new pet carrier. Below, we have detailed four creative ways to make the most of your local pet store.

 

Training and Behavior Resources

Most pet stores will have written training resources in the form of books, pamphlets, and brochures. However, some stores—primarily large chain businesses and specialty stores—provide training and behavioral clinics for free or at a low cost. Ask your sales associate if the store offers any type of training programs for customers. If they don’t, ask if they have any connections to or promotions for nearby training facilities or clinics.

Training and behavior resources cam be especially useful for pet parents looking to travel with their animals; though it is unlikely that a store will have a travel-oriented workshop, most will offer anything from stress-relief clinics to command training. Additionally, specialty stores may in fact have travel-related workshops. If you have a small, independently-owned pet store nearby, ask about possible travel workshops. Small businesses thrive because of their ability to support a hyper-local market. If you point out the need for a resource like this, a business owner may consider hosting a clinic or workshop.

 

Minimal and Last-Minute Vet Visits

Some large pet stores have in-house veterinarians or veterinarian technicians. These professionals take care of any animals living in the store, but they also provide services to customers. In general, this should not be a substitute for a regular veterinarian; these facilities often lack the technology necessary for invasive procedures and testing. However, pet store vet visits are a great way to prepare for your flight. We previously detailed Alaska Airlines’ partnership with Banfield Pet Hospitals, which are located within PetSmart stores. The airline provides free pet health examinations and discounted health certificates to their passengers’ furry friends. Even if you’re not flying with Alaska Airlines, visiting one of these veterinary venues is a great way to quickly and efficiently get your travel paperwork together.

 

Pet Nutrition Advice

This creative pet store use does not deal directly with pet travel and transportation. It is, however, vitally important. Unless your pet has a specific health or dietary need, such as a urinary health or weight loss regime, a veterinarian may not have the market knowledge to recommend moderately-priced and comprehensive pet foods. A pet store, however, is consistently updating its inventory to provide a range of food options to best fit animals’ changing needs. If you’re unsure which pet food to use, a pet store sales associate will be able to provide direction. To that end, if you have a picky pet, bring him into the store; in some cases, suppliers will provide samples, allowing you to choose the food your pet likes most.

 

General Knowledge

Pet stores are excellent resources for anything and everything related to pet health, pet care, and pet recreation. People who choose to work at pet stores—particularly small and independently-owned stores—do so because they have a love for animals. Many pet store associates have pet care experience, and many have prior practice as veterinary assistants or technicians. Whether your pet is behaving strangely or doesn’t seem to like the new toy you purchased, a pet store sales associate should have enough knowledge to steer you in the right direction. Of course, if you believe your pet may be sick or injured, a trip to the veterinarian is non-negotiable. If, however, you have basic questions about behavior, training, food, and recreation, a pet store can help.

In addition to having knowledgeable staff, pet stores will often devote a small section to general knowledge resources. This could be training books and manuals, free behavior brochures, or a place for local animal professionals to advertise various services. Ask the sales clerk if the store has a section like this—you could find the resource you’ve been looking for to get your pet ready for a big trip.

 

 

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Purchasing an Airline-Approved Pet Carrier? Ask These 5 Questions

When purchasing an airline-approved pet carrier, it is essential to arrive armed with the information you need to make a confident purchase. Dogs on Planes already provides most of the basic information you need to know, but if it’s convenient to do so, we also recommend you take advantage of the in-store experience including a brief trial run with your pet. When you’ve narrowed down the options, you can ask a sales associate the following questions to guarantee a great purchase.

 

Do you have a scale?

Some pet carriers advertise incorrect weights and heights. If you are purchasing a container for simple vet visits, these measurements don’t matter very much. However, one inch of height or a couple pounds of weight could ruin your dog’s ability to board a plane. Though a specific carrier may claim to be “airline-approved,” the maximum measurements are not standard across airlines. Check your provider’s requirements before purchasing. In assessing the measurements yourself, you ensure airline height and weight compatibility. Most larger or specialty stores offer a variety of pet services, such as grooming and boarding. In most cases, there will be a scale and tape measurer available.

 

Is there any proof of airline approval?

As with measurements, some carriers falsely advertise airline approval through tricky and confusing wording: “travel approved,” “travel tested,” and “flight safe” are popular choices to make customers believe the product has been airline-approved. Look for signage, stickers, or informational tags before making your pet carrier decision. If you don’t see anything, ask the sales associate if the store has additional information or literature on a specific product. In most cases, the salesperson will be able to look up any certification or approval a carrier may have.

 

Does it expand or collapse?

Though measurements are the most important factor in choosing a pet carrier, comfort should follow as a close second. Soft-sided carriers provide added comfort; their ability to collapse under a seat and expand to increase available pet space could mean the difference between your animal having a peaceful trip and a stressful one. Look for carriers that expand in one or two directions; this small addition can double the space your pet has to move around during the flight. However, always check to see that this addition does not hinder any other safety feature, such as ventilation and security.

 

Is anything else included in the purchase? 

This is an especially important for pet parents flying their animals in the cargo hold. These kennels are made of hard-sided material, such as plastic, metal, or wood, and they have solid roofs. Most do not come with any sort of bed or lining for added comfort, so it is essential to ask your sales associate. Additionally, animals traveling in cargo must have access to food and water dishes, which affix to the inside of the door. The airline staff should be able to access the dishes without opening the door. Some cargo kennels include these attachments, but many do not. If your kennel is not sold with the necessary materials, you can easily buy food and water dishes for a few extra dollars. In asking during the purchase, you eliminate a potentially devastating surprise on the day of your flight.

 

Can my dog test it out?

This is perhaps the largest benefit of shopping for a pet carrier in a store. You’ll arrive armed with your airline’s maximum measurements, but these mean nothing if your pet cannot fit comfortably in the carrier. Bring your dog along and allow him to check out the container. If he can’t stand or sit comfortably in the space, move onto the next option. Additionally, bringing your dog will allow you to check if the carrier fits within an airline’s weight requirement.

In asking these questions, pet parents ensure they get the best, most comprehensive information about specific pet carrier products. However, it is important to arrive at your pet store already understanding the features necessary in airline-approved carriers. Research your airline’s specific policies, write down the measurements you need, grab your dog, and head to your local pet retailer to find the airline-approved carrier you need.

 

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