How to Choose the Right Crate for Your Pet

Choosing the right crate will make dog transport and other pet travel much simpler. Your animal will be safe and secure, and having an IATA-approved crate will prevent denials and delays at the check-in counter. Pet travel policies usually are standard among airlines but each airline may have slightly different standards on crates, so check with them beforehand. As a general rule, however, your crate should meet all of the following general requirements:

Materials: Airline-approved materials for pet shipping crates must be rigid, sturdy and solid. Fiberglass, metal, rigid plastic and metal mesh are, in general, all approved for animal transportation. Solid wood is also accepted by many airlines, but some will refuse it, so it is important to check beforehand.

Size: You carrier should be just large enough for your pet to sit down, stand up, turn around and lie back down without touching the sides. PetTravel.com has a helpful guide for measuring your pet’s physical dimensions and converting them into a standard crate size.

Door and Sides: Crate doors must latch securely with spring-loaded latches, and the latch pins must extend 5/8 in. beyond the horizontal protrusions located above and below the door. It is also strongly recommended that you use a crate with a metal door and steel hardware. Make sure that the door is nose- and paw- proof to prevent injury to your pet. We also suggest that you secure the corners of the door with cable ties.

In addition to being made of sturdy, airline-approved material, the sides should be well-ventilated and should not be collapsible. It is required that two sides have ventilation for domestic flights and that four sides have ventilation for international flights. We recommend that you choose a crate with a solid roof—no top door or ventilation. There should also be handles on the long sides of the crate.

Interior: The crate should have a solid, leak-proof bottom and no interior protrusions or handles that could bump and injure your pet. Cover the bottom with a layer of absorbent cloth (such as training pads) and secure food and water bowls to the inside of the front door where they can be refilled without opening the crate. Do not include any hard toys or other objects that could hurt your animal while they are in transport.

Labels: Make a label with your pet’s name and your home and cell phone numbers, the destination address and phone number, emergency contact information, your pet’s medical conditions and nutritional needs (if any) and a recent picture of your pet. Laminate the label and attach it to the crate with duct tape. Attach medical and travel documents, as well, and attach a leash to the outside if you can.

We recommend that you purchase your crate a few months in advance of your flight so you can train your pet to get used to being in it for long periods of time. If you need help, Animals Away can help you select the proper crate and offer more useful advice on how to prepare your pet for travel.

How to Prepare Your Pet for International Travel

An overseas move doesn’t have to be nerve-wracking, even if you’re relocating with a pet. Still, we understand why you might be concerned. You love your pet and want them to travel comfortably, and an international move involves enough preparation and planning that shipping your pet across the ocean might start to feel burdensome. We’ve come up with this handy guide so that you have the basics at your disposal.

Take a Trip to the Vet

Before your pet travels internationally, a veterinarian must certify that they are healthy and free from diseases like rabies, as well as provide documentation thereof. This medical examination may need to be completed up to six months before your pet’s travel date, so make sure that you schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

Depending on the country that your pet will be flying into, it might need different vaccinations and tests. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll have to figure this out on your own. Your vet will be able to provide you with information in most cases, and a pet shipping service, like Animals Away, will also help you determine what kind of examination your pet needs.

Prepare Travel Documents

After your trip to the vet, you’ll receive proof of health records and vaccination, plus a crucial certificate of veterinary inspection that needs to be validated by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Keep copies for your records, and make sure that you pet travels with the documentation in addition to your contact information, proof of information and an ID tag.

If you find that this kind of documentation is a headache, Animals Away offers paperwork preparation as part of our pet shipping services.

Find the Right Crate

Your pet needs to travel in an International Air Travel Association-approved kennel that is the correct size. Finding the right crate isn’t complicated. Make sure that the crate is made of plastic with metal bolt closures, are these are the only kind that airports will accept—crates with clips or dials are not approved. The crate should be just big enough that your pet can stand up, turn around and lie down in their natural position and, of course, should have proper ventilation. Animals Away can provide a crate for you if you use our pet shipping services.

It’s normal for pets to become nervous while flying in a crate. Acclimate them to the crate by making it a comfortable environment at home a few weeks before the scheduled flight date. Place food, water, blankets and toys in the crate and let your pet spend time there. This will make them much less anxious during their flight, because they will be in a familiar environment. A human escort might be more appropriate for pets who are especially uneasy flyers and don’t do well in a crate, even with prior preparation.

Just Before the Flight

On the day of your pet’s travel, give them a light meal eight hours before they enter their crate, but restrict their food intake otherwise. Do give them plenty of water, and let them out to relieve themselves as close to the flight time as possible. The IATA firmly recommends against giving your pet tranquilizers for anxiety, as sedatives and other tranquilizers can pose a threat to your pet’s health. Tranquilizing your pet should only be done under the instruction of a veterinarian.

By following this guide, you can simplify the process of your international move and ensure that your pet stays happy and healthy.