I would prefer it if my patients did not travel by air as they often end up in cargo and this can be dangerous. Your pet can become lost , injured or even die as a result of air travel. If you absolutely must travel with your dog by air here are some tips.
Make sure you check with your airline for requirements for size of carrier, if water, food and litter (in the case of cats) are allowed and whether a health certificate is needed from your veterinarian. Some airlines require the pet to have a physical exam within 2 weeks of flying. Some require sedation. Some airlines allow small pet to fly in a carrier with the owner as long as it fits under the seat. Check first. Insure the area where your pet will be is climate controlled and pressurized. If not book another airline. Book a direct flight–morning or evening if it is warm and mid day in cooler weather.
Be sure your pet is identified with a microchip and collar. This is incase your pet is lost or escapes some how at the airport.The collar should be a break away collar.
Invest in the correct type of airline crate and write your pet’s name on and “I am a beloved friendly pet” with markers on the crate. Include his or her favourite blanket in the crate and spray the crate with pheromone spray, either Dog Appeasing Pheromone or Feliway for Cats.
Even if a tranquillizer is not required give your pet some natural anti anxiety herbs or homeopathics. A thundershirt would also help calm an anxious dog. Arrive early in case of last minute changes. Do not over feed or feed at all in case of air sickness and exercise before crating.
A friend of mine who travels with pets has told me she gives goodie bags to the flight attendants and the cockpit crew with a picture of her dog and a note that explains how her dog is a part of her family and she wants to insure he is on board and safe. I think this would be a good idea for everyone.
Lastly there is a new service that is a Pet Only Airline that operates in a limited market in the United States. This may be a viable alternative for some of your pets.
My final word of advice would be don’t unless you really have to!