There are times when we have no choice but to hand over our pet dogs at the airport and have them travel in the cargo hold. Some breeds are simply too big to be able to fit in the cabin in a carrier, while others may be small but too badly behaved to be tolerated in there.
The only other option is for them to fly in a secure crate in the hold and meet you at the other end. Naturally, this idea fills many people with a sense of dread. There are constantly stories about luggage being damaged on flights due to carelessness on the part of the baggage handlers. Then there is the common concern over lost luggage. So, how can we be sure that our pets are going to be safe enough in the cargo to travel without a concern?
The first thing to do its check the airline’s policies on handling pets
Most airlines have pet friendly areas of the cargo area and it never hurts to inquire about them. The most responsible wont take animals in the cargo at all between mid-May and mid-September. Some will provide confirmation to passengers when their animal is safely on-board the plane. You can also tell a lot about an airline and their view of pets by the way that the animals are treated in the airport. Are they seen as another bit of cargo to load up and transport or as another passenger? Are they allowed out of the crate to stretch their legs before a flight? Is there a place where they can go and relieve themselves in comfort?
Of course the comfort and security of a pet during this experience is just as much the responsibility of you as the owner as the airline handling them
Damage to a pet or the pet carrier during flight can be avoided if owners purchase the right model. The tougher and more secure the crate, the less likely it is that it will break or that the animal will damage it themselves. A secure, heavy duty model with a good lock is a must, some also tie down to the cargo hold to stop them moving around. It is also important to add a plastic wallet with plenty of information about the animals. This means contact details, medical issues and anything else that handlers may need to know.
Finally, make sure that all pets are calm and comfortable enough for airline travel
The more that you can relieve their anxiety, the safer and healthier they will be. This does not mean dog sedatives. This is a bad idea on flight, and at the best of times. Instead, try and tire them out before a flight and add items of comfort to the container, like a favorite soft toy or blanket. If it is a familiar environment that they are used to traveling in, they may curl up and sleep all the way through. On that note, make sure the crate is big enough that they can stand up, turn around and lie down.
In many cases, owners are simply worrying about nothing. A calm dog in a secure container in the hands of a responsible airline has little to worry about.