I'm not sure that I'd be as comfortable taking the family pet on a vacation, but the folks at Fido Friendly magazine (fidofriendly.com) recently offered tips for traveling by air with canine companions.
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Have an airline-approved crate and be sure that your dog thinks of it as a den. To get the pet comfortable in the portable home, try taking your pet on short road trips in the carrier.
Outfit the crate, inside and out. On the outside, place several bright orange "Live Animal" stickers and a sheet with contact information. On the inside, include a couple of soft toys that your dog loves and maybe a T-shirt that has your scent. Be sure to tape a small bag of food and a leash to the top of the crate.
Check the flight time and book a direct fight if possible to avoid plane changes, delays or lost luggage. Consider whether Fido can be in the crate for six hours or for whatever length of time will be necessary to arrive at your destination.
Check the airline policies regarding when to arrive at the airport, kennel requirements, veterinarian records, costs and weight limits. There may be more requirements for different airlines.
Get a clean bill of health certificate from your veterinarian for your dog to fly. A pet cannot fly without records stating that the animal is in good health. Most airlines require those documents to be no more than 30 days old.
On flight day, it's a good idea to feed your dog four to six hours before departure. Give your pooch minimal water to avoid full bladders.
Find a way to exercise your dog before the flight. Check with the airport to see if there is a dog-run area.
Do not sedate your pet. Sedation could lead to injury if your dog's crate moves during the flight and your pet can't react to it. Also, try to stay relaxed because your pet can sense your tension.
Visit fidofriendly.com for more dog-friendly tips.