Animal Planet host weighs in on pet travel: Air travel and car rides

Photo by Karin Beil  CC BY-NC-ND
Animal Planet host weighs in on pet travel: Air travel and car rides

By Stacey McIntyre-Gonzalez

Crossing the border with a pet can be complicated and daunting for pet owners. Animal Planet host Dan Schachner has been there too. “Bear in mind that certain things are going to be tricky- security for example might be a little bit tricky with the dog,” Schachner said on May 6.  “You are going to have to remove the dog from the carrier and take it with you. TSA people will want to examine your pet. There are going to be some steps along the way where they are really going to scrutinize your animal and then the animal is going to have to go back into its carrier.”

Pet travel will be more difficult when flying for many reasons but knowing airline regulations can make the whole process go smoother. The pet will have to be in a well ventilated crate or carrier of some sort. Schachner recommends allowing the pet to get a lot of exposure to the carrier before the trip to make the animal feel more at ease while travelling.

“Make sure that if your pet is flying with you in cabin that it is going to fit in the seat in front of you in a carrier. Make sure you do your research on that side ahead of time,” said Schachner. “Make sure that they are comfortable in it- that they've got familiar toys inside it.”

 Keep in mind that most airlines consider a carry-on pet as your one piece of carry-on luggage that you are allowed. This means that the carrier will have to meet certain weight and size requirements. This is true at Air Canada airline. Air Canada also requires pets to be registered to travel in advance. They have specific crate regulations and fees associated with boarding pets in cargo- most airlines are the same way. Air Canada also has temperature restrictions, breed regulations, restraint device guidelines and specific flights that pets are allowed to travel on. Contacting the airline itself to get all questions answered is the most important step in preparing to fly your pet.

The Canadian Government has great advice for pet owners going through border security including the following Do’s and Don’ts:


•           Remove your pet from its carrying case and send the carrying case through the  screening equipment.

•           Hold your pet in your arms and proceed through the metal detector.

•           Take your pet out of its cage or carrier if it is being transported in the belly hold of the  aircraft. A screening officer will screen the cage or carrier separately.

•           Be responsible for your pet and its behavior throughout the screening process.

•           Contact your air carrier or travel agent in advance to determine the airline’s policy on  passengers travelling with pets.


•           Hand your pet to a screening officer to hold while you go through security.

•           Put your pet on the conveyor belt.”

Although preparing for a long car ride is not as complicated you still crossing the border and need to prepare for that in advance. “In a car I understand that things are a little different because you can stop along the way and you can get out of the car as needed for bathroom breaks and food breaks,” Schachner explained. He recommends “making sure that if they are in the car they have the right pet harnesses or seat belt adapters.”

 “There are a lot of really unpredictable moments in travelling,” Schachner continues, explaining that pet parents must make sure pets have “lots of items in (the) carrier or nearby that you can use to calm them and make them feel at home.”

When travelling by car keep pets contained to the carrier- do not allow them to roam free in the vehicle for the entire trip. Make time for food, water and rest and be mindful of the weather and the temperature in the vehicle.

Schachner noted that research doesn't end with border security and the airline. He urges owners to research the hotels and resorts you will be visiting to make sure you meet their pet friendly requirements. “(Research) towns and cities that you are visiting make sure there are plenty of things (for the pets) to do. You are travelling with your pets, so you want to enjoy these destinations with your pets.”

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