Pets on Jets
Travelling with pets is a seemingly unattainable dream, but Air Charter Service offers private charter flights that make it a reality.
Trina Cooper is the founder of Wag The Dog UK, a dog-friendly blog inspired by Maggie the beagle. When Trina thinks about taking Maggie on a trip, she is always concerned about her beloved beagle’s health and safety:
“There’s no fun in taking a pet on vacation if they are going to suffer getting there. This is why it is a last resort for me to ever put Maggie in the cargo hold of a plane. Think of yourself as your dog going on a trip. You are placed in a crate and shipped alone into a dark and loud cargo area where your only companion is the walls of that crate.”
We asked some pet behaviour experts to share their insights into the cargo hold experience for pets:
Is flying traumatic for pets?
Rosie Barclay MPhil CCAB (clinical companion animal behaviourist) of APBC said: “If a pet isn’t used to being kept in a small moving crate, surrounded by the noise and smells of engines and other pets, then this is likely to be an incredibly fearful experience, which might lead to behavioural issues later on in life.”
The Canine Welfare Trainers and head vet at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home agreed, saying: “Travel can be frightening for many animals and travelling in a cargo hold is likely to be a negative experience due to the loud noises, temperature changes, movement and the presence of other animals that are also worried. This has the potential to lead to noise phobias and a fear of being alone.”
We asked the RSPCA what they thought about travelling with pets by plane: “We would suggest that, when deciding whether to transport pets by air, owners take their time to research the airline they are travelling with to minimise any potential stress, such as finding one which flies directly to the destination. Also, we would recommend owners discuss with their vet the suitability of the pet for travelling by air. It is essential that the pet is fit and healthy and able to cope with being confined for an extended period of time.”
Once the travelling pet is confirmed to be fit and healthy for air travel, one of the best ways to ensure their comfort and minimise stress is to charter a direct flight via private jet. Besides the time saving aspect of no airport queues, this also allows pet owners to have their furry friends with them throughout the flight.
According to the Canine Welfare Trainers and head vet at Battersea: “Animals do tend to be more relaxed in the presence of people they know and trust. They are likely to be comforted and cope better if the people and animals around them are familiar to them. Owners will still need to be aware that a flight could be traumatic for the animal, regardless of where they travel and therefore should speak to their vet or a behaviourist about ways they can prepare their pet for such a journey.”
We went ahead and asked the experts for you:
How can owners prepare their pets for travel?
Juliette Jones, Cat Behaviour and Training Specialist and Wendy Kruger, Dog Behaviour and Training Specialist, of Wood Green, The Animals Charity said:
Before travel day:
“Consider your individual animal’s personality and whether travelling is the right option for them. Air travel, particularly in the cargo hold, can be dangerous for animals with flat faces, such as bulldogs, pugs and Persian cats. Their short nasal passages leave them vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke, especially when stressed.
“Get your dog used to a car harness and teach them to sit on the passenger seat of the car. Introduce them to the plane, feed them some tasty treats in the cabin, allow them to explore the cabin, ask them to sit on a seat and secure their harness to the seat belt. Get a secure, covered carrier for your cat, to transport them more easily. It might help to get them used to it, to avoid too much distress when you take them on your travels".
On travel day:
“Ensure they have had plenty of exercise.”
During the flight:
“Give them treats to help take their mind off worrying experiences, like take-off and landing, turbulence, and air pressure changes which may affect his ears — take chews to help with this.”
Rosie Barclay MPhil CCAB of APBC added that, before travel day, the aeroplane engine noise can be found online and introduced to your pet at a very low level. She suggests: “You can gradually increase the volume but only move to the next stage when your pet is happy at the previous one. Always make sure that your pet is receiving something rewarding so it begins to associate all this movement and noise with fun things happening. You can practise this inside the house and in the car and garden, so your dog gets used to this happening in different environments and amongst different smells.”
For Trina Cooper, the bottom line when she thinks about taking Maggie on a trip is: “When a pet is not beside their loved one who is usually there to take care of them, they are experiencing added stress that they did not sign up for. You will feel less stressed with your pet by your side, and your dog is going to feel great knowing you are there.”