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Choosing the right air crate for your pet

It is extremely important to choose the correct air crate for your pet dog or cat to ensure their safety and comfort in the cargo hold of an aeroplane. The crate should not just be comfortable and safe for your pet; it should also meet all International Air Transport Association (IATA) guidelines for transport of live animals. Failure to meet airline regulations could mean your pet will not be allowed to board the flight. Airline guidelines might seem strict and excessive, but they are mandated for the safety and wellbeing of your pet.

If you are planning to travel overseas with your pet dog or cat, here are some guidelines to follow to help you choose the right air crate or kennel.

The right size

IATA approved crates come in several standard sizes; it is important to choose the right size for your pet. Tall breeds can travel in customised crates, as long as the crate meets all IATA stipulations. The general rule is that your pet should be able to stand up and turn around inside the carrier comfortably. He should be able to lay down comfortably with his paws extended and he shouldn’t have to duck his head to see out of the crate. A measuring tape can be used to record four measurements of your pet to determine the correct size crate:

  • A: The tip of the nose to the base of the tail
  • B: Height from the ground to the elbow joint while standing
  • C: The width across the shoulders
  • D: From the top of the head to the ground when your dog is standing. If your pet has erect ears, measure from tip of the ears to the ground.

With these measurements your animal transport expert can choose the correct-sized crate for international travel easily. The length of the crate must be not less than A+B. To calculate the width of the crate, use the formula, C+1in x 2 and the height of the crate should be D +3in.

The best material

Air crates need to be strong enough to withstand the rigours of air travel without compromising the safety of your pet in any way. IATA guidelines suggest that the pet crates should be made of fibreglass, metal, rigid plastic, or wood. Rigid plastic crates are recommended and are most widely used. The floor must be solid and leakproof; and the crate should not be collapsible.

The air crate must have ventilation on all three sides and the inside of the crate must be smooth with no sharp edges. The door of the air carrier must be metal with an all-around locking system with pins extending at least 1.6 cm above and below the door. The door must strong enough to keep the pet inside securely. It should not have jagged surfaces that can injure your pet.

Some crates come with plastic fasteners, but it is recommended to use a crate with metal fasteners instead. Large crates are required to have forklift spacers on the sides while smaller crates need to have handles on the sides for airline handlers to move the crate securely.

Labelling and accessories

The air crate should have prominent live animal stickers in the correct colours with specific information in a globally recognised format, display the contact details of the pet owner and animal transport company, with relevant permits and certificates enclosed.

An absorbent pet pad should be laid on the floor of the air crate for your pet’s comfort. It is recommended to keep an unwashed t-shirt or an old blanket in the air crate; your pet will be comforted by its smell. Do not include hard toys or other accessories as they are banned by the airlines.

What not to buy

Do not buy collapsible crates and crates made of metal wire. They are not IATA approved and your pet will not be allowed to travel internationally in these crates. Crates with plastic doors and side clips should be avoided. Pet kennels with wheels may seem convenient, but airline officials usually remove the wheels before boarding, thus rendering it useless. Second hand crates are best avoided because they may have been used domestically by unvaccinated pets and may contain traces of illness or disease.

Acclimatising your pet

It is best to spend a few weeks before the date of travel to acclimatise your pet to the air crate, encouraging them to rest and sleep in the crate and form a positive association with it. This will go a long way in ensuring your dog has a smooth and comfortable flight.

Petraveller Sky Crate

Petraveller ensures every pet travels in brand new, IATA approved crate that prioritises comfort and safety. It has a prominent colour that is easily identified by airline and customs staff and conforms to all international airline standards. Manufactured from non-toxic, rigid plastic, the crate is well ventilated with a secure metal door and lock for transit. Each crate comes with a Petraveller ultra absorbent and antislip Sky Bed and a funnel and water bowl attached to the door for hydration.

Contact our team at Petraveller for more information on air crates and travelling abroad with your dog or cat.