Day-of-travel preparations

Sedation policy

United supports the American Veterinarian Medical Association’s (AVMA) recommendation to not transport pets that have been sedated. We will not accept cats or dogs that have been sedated or that appear to be sedated. We accept no liability for the death or sickness of a pet caused by any drug, and there are many safe alternatives to sedation that could help calm your pet. Some of these include “calming” (pheromone) collars and other natural therapies. Please check with your veterinarian to learn about other options for your pet.

Food and water container requirements

To make sure your pet stays hydrated during travel and can be fed during any unforeseen delays, two dishes or one divided dish for food and water must be securely attached to the inside of the crate door. These must be accessible from the outside of the crate so the dishes can be filled without opening the door. The dishes must be durable and designed safely so they won’t injure your pet during travel. We’ll accept metal bowls as long as they don’t slide or fall out of the ring that holds them, which can be a safety hazard. Drip-style water bottles can also be used if your pet knows how to drink from one, but you’ll need to include a dish beneath it to catch and hold any dripping water.

Examples of acceptable food/water containers

Examples of unacceptable food/water containers

Examples of acceptable flat-style collars, including “calming” collars

Certification and feeding instructions

We’re required to attach a certification to the outside of your pet’s crate that includes the last time your pet was offered food and water. You will need to sign this certification and include any special feeding and watering instructions.

Please do not feed your pet for at least two hours prior to departure, since a full stomach can make your pet uncomfortable and lead to stomach bloating, vomiting and other conditions.

Additional crate items

Along with the required food and water containers, there are several additional items that you might want to include with your pet’s crate. To make sure your pet is safe and comfortable, please review which items are allowed and not allowed with your pet’s crate.

Items allowed in or attached to the crate:

  • A bag of up to 16 ounces of dry food that we'll attach to the crate. This will be used to feed your pet for long itineraries, during unexpected delays or if their flight is diverted.
  • Drip-style water bottles — for pets that are used to drinking from them.
  • Blankets, towels, beds or crate pads 3 inches thick or less. Shredded black and white newspaper is also allowed.
  • A soft T-shirt or piece of clothing that has a familiar scent can be included to comfort your pet.
  • Only flat-style collars are allowed. Pets can wear these collars around their necks or they can be securely attached to the outside of the crate. Leashes are allowed, but only when they’re securely attached to the outside of the crate.

Items not allowed in or attached to the crate:

  • Toys
  • Extra bottles of water, bones or treats
  • Blankets, towels, beds or crate pads thicker than 3 inches. Shredded colored newspaper is not allowed because it can be toxic if it’s eaten by pets.
  • Shock collars, chokers, metal or loose-fitting collars and muzzles
  • Any medication, including over-the-counter or prescription (We do not administer medications to pets traveling with us.)
  • Straw, hay or wood shavings