Choosing and Using a Pet Crate for Travel
Crates and carriers are necessities for pet travel and are required when for pets traveling by air. Keep your pet safe and sound by following these tips for purchasing and using a pet crate.
WHN Tip: Check with your airline for specifics regarding pet carriers and crate size and weight requirements. Visit our Pet Links - Travel Resources [WHN page link TK] page to find links to airline companies and their policies.
Buying a Crate
Here are some tips from the USDA and the AVMA. You can also check with your vet for recommendations.
- Large enough to allow the animal to stand, turn and lie down (usually required by most airlines.)
- Has metal doors instead of plastic (if plastic, they could be could be chewed or bent)
- A strong and effective lock mechanism
- No wheels – most if not all airlines will not accept a container with wheels
- Leak-proof bottom covered with plenty of absorbent material
- Ventilation on opposite sides, with exterior rims or knobs to prevent blocked airflow
- Handles and grips for lifting the kennel into the airplane (required by airlines)
WHN Tip: Carry-on Pet Carriers
The pet must be placed in a kennel that is comfortable yet small enough to fit under the passenger's seat. For specific airline requirements, contact the airline or visit our Pet Links - Travel Resources page [WHN page link TK] for a list of links.
Preparing the Crate
Label your crate
- Write your name, address and cell phone number (since you'll probably have that with you) on the kennel. Tag your pet with the same information.
- Label the kennel "Live Animals" using at least 1-inch high lettering on the top and one side with directional arrows indicating the position of the kennel.
WHN Expert Tip: Extra Tags
Consider purchasing a temporary tag showing your destination address and phone number. More tips at Aviation Consumer Protection Division.
WHN Expert Tip: Plastic Shipping Sleeves
For photocopies of health documentation, we use plastic shipping sleeves (normally used for address labels) to secure the documentation to the top of the travel crate. These sleeves are great as they show the content, stick to the crate easily and usually have a resealable closure - perfect for airport officials to quickly and easily access the documentation." Rachel Farris, PetRelocation.com
Stock your crate
- Add a few of the pet's blankets or bedding and trays for food and water.
WHN Expert Tip: Smells Like You
Add in a piece of clothing that you (the owner) have worn. The scent may help calm the pet. An old T-shirt that you have slept in for one or more nights will work well – USDA
WHN Expert Tip: Ice Cold
"The day before your flight, fill the water container and put it in the freezer. Why? The water will stay solid, not spill out and will slowly melt overtime. That way, by the time your pet is thirsty the water is there for them." Matt Stelter, Drs. Foster & Smith representative and professional collie owner and handler
Preparing Your Pet
- Get your pet used to the kennel or crate — and the feeling of motion — by transporting them a few days before the air travel date.
WHN Expert Tip: "Get your pet used to motion. Train them early on that movement is okay and comfortable. And you need to get them adjusted to a kennel because they're going to hear a lot of new noises and might be quite scared." Susan Simms, Midwest Airlines marketing specialist, AKC judge, professional English Setter breeder and handler.
- Skip the toys. According to the Air Transport Association, most airlines do NOT permit pet toys in the kennel during transport in the cargo hold. (Click the link for more information.)
Want more travel tips? Top pet travel articles:
Traveling by Air with Pets
Traveling by Car with Pets
Finding Pet-Friendly Hotels