10 tips for travelling with your pet

  1. You’ll need to contact a pet agent first, who will then engage a cargo carrier (such as IAG Cargo) to transport your pet. Make sure the company you choose is accredited – you don’t want to get caught out on price, so it’s best to go with recommended experts, and using an IPATA agent will ensure that they are knowledgeable on all aspects of pet transport. In the UK, Pet Air and Air Pets are some of IAG Cargo’s major customers and offer services such as home pick-up and the option to build your own crate.
  2. Make sure that you get the right crate. Some customers will be expected to meet their pet agent at the airport and often don’t have the right type of crate. You should be advised on the type of crate based on your pet’s measurements. Ensure you have a kennel that’s big enough, with a water pot that is secured properly.
  3. Make sure you’ve got the right documentation, such as a Rabies certification. Your agent should also tell you what you’ll need, depending on the destination your pet is travelling to.
  4. Have your pet kennel-trained in advance so they won’t be stressed during the journey. You can do this at home, putting treats in the kennel and getting them used to it in advance of their trip.
  5. Don’t feed your pet before travel. If they’re due to travel in the morning, don’t feed them directly before – if the flight’s in the evening, lunch should be their last meal. Just a small snack no more than two hours before dropping them off will be sufficient. 
  6. IAG Cargo won’t accept some species, such as snub-nosed dogs, because they’re known to have respiratory problems. We would never want to endanger the life of the dog, and as a result don’t feel it is safe for them to fly.
  7. We never tranquilise pets, and we don’t recommend it. Tranquillisers can reduce the ability of the animal to respond to stress, and the reaction to the tranquilliser can’t always be foreseen. They can only be used if your pet has a specific problem, and sedation can only be signed off and carried out by a licensed veterinarian.
  8. Finding room for your pet on the same flight could be difficult if you’ve already booked your ticket. Once slots are filled, carriers may not be able to take your pet, but they will try to help in as much as possible. We recommend that you contact your pet agent around the time that you book to guarantee you fly with your pet.
  9. Metal water bowls are better than plastic – make sure to attach them to the crate with a funnel so pet handlers can get water to them. A favourite blanket or toy is comforting to have too – don’t use newspaper though because it can be shredded and usually ends up in the water bowl.
  10. If you’re shipping your pet from Heathrow airport, a temperature-controlled vehicle will be on hand to transport your pet from the aircraft as soon as they land. They will be taken to the animal reception centre (ARC) where their health is checked along with their documentation, and then they’ll be ready to go.

 Find out more about IAG Cargo’s Live Animals service