Any pet owner will agree that pets very quickly become a part of the family.
So sometimes leaving them behind on trips and holidays seems cruel and unfair.
Travelling with pets can be exciting and possibly even necessary for a variety of different reasons.
You may want a companion.
Have nobody to pet sit.
Or think your furry friend deserves a vacation!
Just take a read of Bark Post’s 10 reasons why Dogs Make Better Travel Buddies than Humans, to get a better understanding of the variety of reasons why you may choose to travel with your pet.
In comparison to the United States, Australia’s rules and regulations regarding travelling with pets is highly restrictive.
Currently, dogs and cats are forced to being transported via a cargo hold on aircrafts, with dimly lit lighting.
Any human being would be terrified to travel in these conditions, so why would you subject an innocent animal to this?
Virgin Australia currently only allows Authorised Assistance Dogs to travel on flights. And in regards to other dogs and cats several rules and restrictions apply.
For example, they must be in the age range of 8 weeks to 12-years-old, and must not exceed 65kg.
When travelling to Tasmania further restrictive rules apply, such as having to treat your canine to a Hydatids Tapeworm test prior to flying.
In 2013, Virgin Australia launched a frequent flyer program for pets, which has slightly increased the number of pets travelling annually.
But in comparison to the 2 million pets who travel within the United States each year, Australia still has a long way to go.
A veterinary certificate is another requirement if your animal is pregnant, has given birth within 48 hours or is recovering from an injury.
However, humans are not subjected to these restrictive rules so why should our pets?
Following the Customs (Prohibited Items) Regulations 1956 crossbreeds are only approved and allowed on the aircraft under the discretion of Virgin.
This rule is even stricter on breeds such as the Japanese Tosa and Fila Brasilerio who are completely banned.
Qantas also has various rules and regulations implemented regarding pets being allowed on board aircrafts.
On their website they have stated that they “understand your pet is an important member of the family, and, just like people, pets need to travel as quickly and comfortably as possible”.
However, they contradict their promise for comfortable travel when they force pets to travel in a crate.
They only allow small dogs and cats to travel in their aircrafts.
And pets of similar size and breed can travel together in a crate which you can book online as an additional service, when you book your own flights.
For example, booking a medium size dog travelling from Melbourne to Sydney return will cost you around $200.
Their booking service is simple and easy to use. You put in your travel dates, select your flights, choose whether you have your own crate or will be requiring one, type in your pets breed and size and then the number of animals flying in the crate.
So if they have such an easy service, why not make the flight comfortable as well?
Frankly, it seems quite harsh and unfair to subjects dogs and cats to these flying conditions.
American Airlines offer a much more open rule regarding pet travel as they allow them to travel on board with their owners so they feel safe and secure. The airline charges $125 each way for small dogs and cats and the only restriction in place is that pets must be able to lie down and stand comfortably.
In the United States some airlines even allow you to transport birds and rabbits!
Even Europe is more advanced than Australia in regards to pets travelling on short distance flights.
One of the most pet friendly airlines happens to be Adria Airways, who accept small pets onboard their Slovenian aircrafts.
In rebuttal, many people actually agree with the restrictions implemented by Australian airlines in regards to travelling on board with animals.
This article by Humane Society explains in-depth the downsides of traveling with pets on aircrafts.
Furthermore, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, between 15-30% of individuals are allergic to dogs and cats to some extent.
Symptoms can vary from sneezing to more dangerous reactions, such as severe asthma attacks.
However, a simple solution to this is limiting the number of pets allowed on board and having a designated section for animals to sit with their owners. For example, American Southwest Airlines, allows a maximum of six pets per flight.
Michelle Agnew, an airline spokeswoman said that passengers severely affected by pets onboard can notify an employee, which seems like a fair rule that all airlines should implement.
JetBlue, an American low-cost carrier, has also offered customers a full refund if animals affect their condition and ability to travel.
But this controversial debate really comes down to pets not being fully regarded and respected as part of people’s families within Australia. It is unfair that they are separated from their owners and put in less than ideal conditions, which can create fear and separation anxiety.
Ultimately, what is the purpose of pet-friendly hotels, restaurants and other services existing? If your pet can’t travel comfortably, then why would you have them travelling at all?
As long as pets remain in their kennels throughout the duration of the flight, then customers and other passenger’s concerns should be non-existent.
And the argument that they are nuisances on planes should be disregarded. If screaming children can roam freely on an aircraft, pets should be allowed to be securely caged near their owner.
Advice for Travelling with your Pet
If you do decide to travel with your pet, it is also important to make sure that they are prepared and fit for travel, especially considering they will not be near you for the duration of the flight. .
Purchasing a First Aid kit from your vet is highly recommended. It is useful to have this handy before or after the flight, especially for first time pet travellers.
Secondly, whether you have purchased a container or are borrowing one from the airline, it is useful to ensure your furry friend gets use to travelling in these small, confined conditions.
Take them for drives in a small cage and put their favourite toy in there as well as some drinking water so that they can warm up and adjust to the idea.
It is also recommended that you purchase an additional protective kennel mat. This absorbs liquid and will make your pets journey more hygienic and comfortable.
On the day of travel it is recommended that you feed your pet a light meal a few hours before take off. This will reduce the chances of them feeling ill on the plane.
Making sure that they have lots of water and are staying hydrated is also essential.
And remember to pack toys and a leash for them, as well as any medication they may need!
But most importantly it is crucial that you know your pet. Nobody understands your beloved pet more than you do, which means that only you will know whether they are suitable for this type of travel or not.
Although you may want them with you on your holiday, if they are prone to separation anxiety or don’t have the emotional or physical capabilities to deal with confined spaces, or hours of travel, then travelling is not advisable.
Brachycephalic breeds in particular should not travel as they are naturally at a higher risk of experiencing heat stress.
Dogs pant when they are excited, stressed or in high energy situations as a method of evaporative cooling. But Brachycephalic breeds such as British and French bulldogs, Pugs and Persian cats, struggle to do this naturally, which means they will struggle even more on an aeroplane.
In addition to this, pets with thick heavy coats of hair such as Siberian Huskies and Malamutes may also find travel difficult. Some airlines outright deny these breeds on board purely because they require more direct supervision.
It is important if you are a first time pet traveller to visit your vet and get a certificate that approves their travels.
And as domestic travel with pets grows within Australia, it is paramount to take into account these travelling tips to ensure your pets trip is as comfortable as possible, because they deserve it.