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While some people seek to calm their pets' stress by administering sedatives before a flight, the American Veterinary Medical Association and many breeders warn that this is a bad idea.
Sedatives can harm the animal's breathing and cause disorientation or even death. This is especially true of pets with pushed-in noses, such as bulldogs or Persian cats.
Instead, spend some time before the trip getting your pet acclimated to the carrier. Leave it out in the pet's normal parts of the house, and put a familiar object -- a toy, one of your socks -- inside. Give the pet treats, attention, and praise in the carrier so he or she associates the carrier with pleasant experiences.
If you're taking trip with your pet, make sure you have all the necessities:
-- A supply of the animal's favorite food. This is not a time to introduce new foods -- he or she will be much happier with familiar tastes.
-- Bottled water. Pets need to drink regularly, and unfamiliar water may be off-putting to a dog or cat who needs the hydration.
-- Food and water dishes
-- Can opener
-- Pet treats
-- One or two favorite toys or objects
-- Comb or brush
-- Leash and harness
-- Paper towels
-- Disinfectant/spray deodorant
-- Plastic bag and scoop.
You may also want to bring your pet's rabies certificate and your veterinarian's phone number.
Some pets, particularly dogs, take well to travel. For some animals, any travel is fine as long as they are with their owners. For others, it's a miserable experience, and the pet would be better off being cared for at home. If you want to bring your pet on a journey, whether it's for practical purposes or just for fun, here are some ideas to make things easier on both of you.
-- Get a secure harness and leash several weeks before the trip, and have your pet spend a few minutes wearing it every day, while receiving treats and attention. There's nothing more heartbreaking than a confused and disoriented pet who bolts into unknown territory during a move or trip.
-- Make a special ID tag with your pet's name and your cell phone number, plus the name and number of someone at your destination who can receive calls if your pet gets lost.
-- During the days preceding the journey, make short trips with your pet, preferably in the vehicle you'll use for the trip. Always use the leash and harness while traveling.
-- Train your dog not to bother people (particularly the driver) while the vehicle is moving.
With proper care, you can ship cats and dogs easily and safely. Dogs and cats will do quite well being shipped from one place to another. However, the transit process is unfamiliar and disorienting to the pet, so many owners prefer to use the method that keeps the pet in transit for the shortest time. Often, this means flying in a sturdy carrier in the baggage compartment of a plane.
This compartment is climate-controlled and pressurized, the same as the cabin, so the pet is not subjected to extremes of temperature.
Some air carriers allow small pets to ride with their owners as carry-on luggage in the passenger compartment, provided they are small enough to move around in a kennel the same size as a carry-on suitcase.
If you are going to ship dogs or other animals, it's important to find the right crate for shipping your animal. For travel within the United States, crates must meet standards set by the Department of Agriculture for size, strength, sanitation, ventilation, grips, and markings.
The crate must be large enough for the animal to stand, sit, breathe and rest comfortably. It must be easy to open, free of objects that could injure the animal, and strong enough to withstand the stress of shipping.
The floor must be solid and leakproof, with an absorbent liner or a layer of litter. Wire or other ventilated subfloors (not pegboard) are allowed.
Ventilation openings must make up at least 14 percent of the surface space of the carrier, with at least a third of the openings in the top half of the kennel. Kennels must also have rims to keep other cargo from blocking ventilation openings.
Grips must be positioned so that the carrier can be lifted without putting cargo crews in danger of being bitten by your pet. Kennels must be labeled with the words "live animals" and arrows indicating which side should be on top.
First, be sure it is legal to ship plants to the destination you have in mind. Some states have strict rules regarding import and export of plant matter, to try to keep invasive species from ruining natural habitats. In many cases, import/export laws and customs delays make it impractical to ship live plants across national borders.
Next, check the weather at the destination and along the route. If your plants will be harmed by freezing temperatures, make sure they won't pass through a cold zone.
When shipping a load of live plants, be aware that any such shipment is vulnerable to inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which could hold up the load by a day or more.
If sending live plants via UPS or another standard carrier, try to send them on a Monday so that they won't run the risk of sitting neglected over a weekend.
Department of Agriculture rules prohibit shipment of the following kinds of animals:
-- Puppies and kittens who are less than 8 weeks old, or who have not yet been weaned.
-- Animals who do not have rabies vaccinations or a health certificate from a veterinarian.
-- Any animal, if the airline or the shipper determines that the temperatures will be too hot or too cold during the journey.
-- Any animal that shows aggressive behavior or does not appear fit for travel.
-- There are special restrictions for exotic animals including primates, venomous snakes and lizards, and animals such as ferrets that are illegal to keep as pets in some jurisdictions.
Questions to ask a horse hauler:
-- Do you have insurance? What will happen if there is an accident?
-- How large is the trailer? How many horses will be traveling in it?
-- Who will be looking after my horse during the journey?
-- Will the driver have a cell phone?
-- What must I provide for my horse's journey -- health certificates, hay, feed, halter, lead rope, shavings?
-- What is your refund policy?
-- Is there hay and water in front of the horses at all times?
If you are moving outside the U.S., it's important to know the rules for bringing your pet with you. Ideally, this should be part of the planning and decision-making you do before making up your mind to move. It may make more sense to find another home for your pet, given the substantial expense and bureaucratic requirements in some countries.
However, life doesn't always give us that kind of time or flexibility. If you do decide to bring your pet with you, be prepared. First, check with your destination country to find out its rules. Often, these are posted on the Internet. Next, you'll most likely need a health certificate for your pet, and some countries also require that pets have identifying microchips installed.
Besides the cost of the veterinary exam, microchipping and any required vaccinations, you will also have to purchase a travel kennel and pay for your animal's shipment. You may also have to pay certain fees in the receiving country. It's not unusual for your dog or cat's plane ticket to cost more than yours!
If you are traveling with your pet, it is usually not necessary to use a professional carrier, unless you are shipping an animal of unusual size or with special needs.
However, you made need help with pet transportation if your animal is taking a long jourey. You may find that airlines require you to employ a "known" shipper. This is part of an FAA security rule that applies to all cargo, not just animals.
The shipping company will work with you to compile the information required by the Transportation Security Administration and the US Department of Agriculture. At the time of shipping, you will be required to provide a current rabies certificate. You will also have to have your animal examined by a vet no more than 10 days before flight, and provide a health certificate before your pet can be accepted for shipping.
Even in the best of conditions, traveling by road is stressful for a horse. Horse transportation can be a difficult for the animal, and it is common for the horse to stop drinking, resulting in dehydration and digestive illness.
To help your horse make the journey successfully, start adding electrolytes to its water a few days before the trip. These will help the horse feel thirsty and want to drink enough water. Also, three days before departure, start adding mineral oil to its feed to ensure proper digestion, and cut back on high-grain and sugary feeds, replacing alfalfa with grass hay.
If your horse tends to be nervous or hard to control, it's important to let your hauler know in advance. Ask your veterinarian what measures can be taken to calm the horse's nerves during the journey.
Two or three weeks before traveling, have your farrier trim your horse's hooves and replace shoes as needed. A couple of days before, have the farrier stop by to round off the hooves one last time.