How To Move Your Pets

A pet carrier is a "must have."

A portable kennel, or pet carrier, is an essential purchase for pet movers to ensure your pet's safety and comfort. It should be just big enough for your dog or cat to stand up, turn around, and lie down. Birds need pet carriers, too; conventional cages are insufficient.

Make sure your pet carrier has cross-ventilation and leak-proof bottom. Adding absorbent layers for travel can be a good idea if your pet is accident-prone. Your kennel should also have a secure door latch. But do not lock it; federal regulations require your pet to be accessible in an emergency.

Most airlines offer pet carriers for purchase with at least 48 hours advance notice. Such kennels meet U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) standards. You may also purchase a kennel at your favorite pet store.

Get your pet accustomed to the carrier before you travel. In the days before you depart, use the carrier as a pet bed. Place a favorite toy or blanket inside to help your pet feel secure.

pets traveling by airlines
Most airlines accept dogs, cats, birds and fish in air freight.

If you plan to travel by air...

Ask about options for pet transportation when you book your flight. Some airlines will allow your pet inside the cabin (first-come, first-served), in an approved container, under the seat. A guide dog, properly harnessed, may sit at your feet.

If you do not accompany your pet, or if your pet is too large to travel in the cabin, it must travel as checked baggage or cargo. Most airlines will allow dogs, cats, birds and fish. However, some may not take venomous snakes or other exotic pets.

You may need to bring your pet to freight loading two hours or more before departure. Write your pet's name on the container and add a note if it is prone to bite. Write FRAGILE: LIVE ANIMAL and THIS SIDE UP clearly on the outside of the container. Always keep the proper documents and a recent photo of your pet handy.

moving fish
Fish should be packed in plastic containers equipped with battery operated aerators and placed in strong boxes.

Tips for transporting fish or turtles.

Pack fish in plastic containers with battery-operated aerators; place the containers inside approved shipping containers. You can transport a turtle easily via overnight mail. Pack it in a styrofoam-cushioned box with air holes and lined with soft grass or leaves. Use a box big enough for your turtle to extend its legs and head. Dampen a cloth and place it inside the container. Write FRAGILE: LIVE ANIMAL and THIS SIDE UP on the box.

Tips for your pet's wellbeing and comfort during air travel.

  1. Book a direct flight if you can. Multiple flights and plane changes mean more handling and more stress for your pet.
  2. Feed your pet a light meal five to six hours before departure.
  3. Do not give water for two hours before take-off, except on hot days.
  4. Do not feed fish for two or three days before you ship them.
  5. Exercise your pet on a leash at the airport and give it any needed medications.
  6. Place your pet in the carrier, secure the latch, and fasten the leash to the outside of the container.
  7. Pick your pet up from the airport as soon as you can, and within 24 hours of arrival if possible. If you do not, your pet may be shipped back to where it came from. Or, the airline may place it in a kennel at your expense.

Airlines may refuse to transport your pet if...

  • it is not in a USDA and IATA-approved container
  • transportation would require more than 24 hours between departure and arrival
  • the ground temperature is below 45°F or above 85°F at departure or arrival
  • it has been sedated, and the carrier bears no note of the drug name, dosage, and how it was given
  • you cannot present proper identification and documents
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Contact your local Atlas Agent today!

They can help answer additional questions about
moving your pets and animals.