Relocating your pets cross-country can require complicated logistics. Although both the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA recommend not transporting pets by airline unless absolutely necessary, sometimes it’s your only option. Here is some advice for an uneventful flight.

Visit the vet
Before booking your pet’s ticket, take them in for a checkup to make sure they’re healthy enough to fly. Plus, you’ll also need a certificate for the airlines proving they’re up to date with their vaccinations and in good health within ten days of departure.

Know the risks
Flying is especially risky for dogs and cats with “smushy” faces, such as pugs and Persians, as their short nasal passages make them more vulnerable to in-flight health risks. Fluctuating temperatures and sudden drops in cabin pressure also make plane travel risky for animals.

Carry-on if you can
If your pet is small enough to fit under the seat, traveling with you in the cabin is the safest way for animals to fly.

Crate & Bottle
Check with the airline to make sure your pet’s travel crate meets their specifications. Allow your pet to spend “happy” time in the crate, with treats and toys, before the trip so it’s not strange and scary on the day of travel. If you plan to hang a self-serve water bottle in the crate during the flight, make sure your pet knows how it works.

Don’t forget their I.D.
Attach a tag to their collar (and crate) that includes flight information. Tape a photo of your pet on the top of the carrier and carry one with you. It could be a critical help if your pet gets loose.

Don’t freak out when you say goodbye
It’s likely to make your pet more anxious. You can always order a cocktail once you’re in the air if you need to calm down.

Go with the pros
Professional relocation services can also help transport your pet long distances. Choose a company with solid references and years of experience.

Your Realtor may be able to make additional recommendations based on their experience with relocating clients. Find a qualified buyer’s or seller’s agent here: