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How to prepare your pet’s crate before international pet travel

The pet crate is perhaps one of the most important aspects of international pet travel. The crate will be your pet’s home throughout the journey, and making sure your pet cat or dog is comfortable and secure in the crate is vital for a happy and pleasant pet travel experience.  

International pet travel can be confusing for your pet; the long flight, the layover, and the health checks can be intimidating for timid pets, especially since you will not be around to reassure them. The best way to prepare your pet for international travel is to crate train them and ensure that their crate is pleasant and comfortable for them.

If you are travelling to an international destination with your furry friend, here’s how to prepare your pet’s crate for international pet travel:

Get the right sized crate

Before buying your pet’s travelling crate, make sure it is the right size. Airlines are very particular about crate size and rightly so. Travelling long distances in a crate that is too small can be fatiguing for your pet. If your pet’s crate is too small or not well-ventilated, the airline will not allow your pet to board.

Measure your pet dog or cat before buying the crate. Your pet must be able to stand up, turn around and lay down comfortably in the crate. Most airlines insist on IATA-compliant crates – these crates are strong and made from rigid plastic or wood. Collapsible and soft-sided crates are not recommended for international pet travel. Contact your nearest pet travel agency or airline if you are not sure about what size crate your pet needs.

Crate train your pet before travelling

Do not wait till the date of journey to buy the crate for your pet. It is recommended to acquire the crate several weeks before travelling so your pet can acclimatise themselves to the crate.

Crate training is very important before international travel because it allows your pet to get used to the crate and feel secure inside. Do not use the crate to punish your pet; they must associate it with a positive and safe space to be comfortable during the flight.

Preparing the crate before travel

There are several things you can do to make sure your pet has an excellent pet travel experience. After you buy the crate and train your pet to love the crate, here’s what you can do on the day of the travel to help your pet look forward to the journey:

  • Assembly and labelling: Make sure the crate has been assembled correctly. Use the hardware provided to fasten both the halves of the crate. Most airlines insist on metal hardware instead of plastic hardware. If your pet crate came with plastic fasteners, remember to replace with metal fasteners before travel. Fix the water and food dishes to the door and make sure all the fastenings are secure. The crate has to be labelled correctly as per airline standards before flying. The pet crate must have live animal stickers prominently placed on the outside. Your local pet travel agent will help you with the assembly and labelling if you are unsure about it.
  • Floor padding: Line the floor of the crate with an absorbent pad for a more comfortable travel experience. The pad must not be high-sided and should lie flat on the bottom of the crate. Petraveller Sky Crates come with super-absorbent Sky Beds made from memory foam that is soft and comfortable on pet joints. An absorbent floor padding is necessary because it keeps the pet comfortable and dry during the journey. Avoid using newspaper or shredded paper to line the crate, especially if your pet is prone to chewing.
  • Comfort items: Your pets will miss you when they are on their journey. Some pets are susceptible to separation anxiety and may find it challenging to undertake international travel all on their own. An old t-shirt or a blanket that smells of you will comfort your pet in their crate. Do not sedate your pet before travelling; spraying the crate with calming oils sometimes works wonders for anxious pets.
  • Food and medicine: Food for your pet must be packed in a sealed bag and attached to the top of the crate. Airline staff will feed your pet during the comfort stop. If your pet is on medication, make sure to attach the medicine and the dosage in a sealed bag. The airline staff will administer the medicine during the layover.
  • Water: The travel crate has a water bowl that is attached to the door of the crate. Remove the bowl, fill it with water and freeze the water the day before your pet’s journey. Attach the bowl with the frozen water just before their flight so the water will not spill and wet the crate.

What not to put in the travel crate

Airlines are very particular about what goes inside the crate when your pet is travelling. When your pet is in the air, these things may pose a choking risk or a safety hazard, which is why they are prohibited in the crate.

  • Unattached water and food bowls: The bowls must be attached to the door of the crate and must not be kept loose inside the crate as they could be a safety risk when the crate is moved.
  • Pet toys: Pet parents feel the need to leave a toy in the crate to keep the pet from being bored. However, pet toys are not allowed in the crate as they are a security risk.
  • High-sided beds: High-sided and overly stuffed bedding are not acceptable by most airlines.
  • Hay or straw bedding: Airlines do not accept crates lined with hay or straw for hygiene reasons.

Contact the international pet travel experts

International pet travel is a long process with several time-bounds steps. Every pet import criterion – from the right crate to applying for the import permit – has to be fulfilled satisfactorily for your pet to be able to enter the destination country. An accredited pet travel agency can hand-hold you through the myriad pet import rules and regulations and make sure your pet arrives safely.

If you are planning to travel abroad with your pet, reach out to the team at Petraveller for more information on zero-harm pet travel and a free travel quote