PetSafe travel planning, considerations and risks
Pets are important members of the family. To ensure their safe and comfortable travel with United, it’s critical that pet owners spend time reviewing all the requirements before making a booking. International travel requirements are more complex and typically require even more advance planning. Here is an overview of some key points for your pet’s travel:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires all dogs entering the United States to be immunized against rabies. Proof of vaccination is required before air travel begins.
- For PetSafe® travel, United requires a minimum one-hour connection time when both flights are within the continental U.S., and a minimum two-hour connection time when either flight includes an origin or destination outside the continental U.S.
- You will need your pet’s health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian, dated within 10 days of travel for both the outbound and return flights. If the return flight occurs more than 10 days after the date when your pet’s health certificate was issued, you will need to obtain a new health certificate for the return flight. Please note that if your pet’s travel on United precedes or follows international travel, the health certificate must be issued in English. For international trips, customers should contact the appropriate embassy or consulate at least one month before departure to ensure all country-specific entry procedures are followed.
- You may track a pet’s itinerary online. by entering the air waybill number you are given when you drop off your pet for travel.
- Crates must conform to IATA and USDA regulations.
- United agents will use an acceptance checklist at the time when you transfer your pet to our care. Please review the checklist for dogs and cats (PDF: 301KB) or the checklist for other animals (PDF: 130KB) to prepare your pet for travel.
- A PetSafe Customer Acknowledgement form is required for acceptance and must be signed by the animal’s owner.
- If you are transporting small or toy dog breeds that are younger than 12 weeks old and less than three pounds (1.5 kg), it is recommended that you take the following precautionary steps:
- Do not vaccinate or worm the puppy within three days of transport.
- Ensure that no other medical procedures are performed on the puppy within three days of transport.
- Use honey or light Karo syrup for "carbohydrate loading" for the 24-hour period prior to shipping to help maintain the puppy’s glucose levels while in transit. Lowered glucose levels in puppies can result in hypoglycemic episodes, including seizures and a reduction of body temperature, severely compromising the puppy’s health.
The unfamiliar surroundings during travel can be stressful for some pets, so it’s important for owners to take time in advance to prepare their animals for a safe and comfortable experience.
PetSafe transports animals on our aircraft in pressurized, ventilated and climate-controlled compartments, and our staff is trained to handle animals with the utmost care. However, your pet will be seeing new people, experiencing different environments and in many cases will be confined to a crate for a longer time than ever before. In addition, certain breed and behavioral characteristics may adversely affect animals and add to their stress during travel. Our team’s highest priority is ensuring your pet’s safety, comfort and well-being throughout its journey.
Like humans, animals react differently to stress and anxiety, so it is important to be aware of ways to reduce your pet’s stress while traveling. If your pet reacts negatively to stress, or is not acclimated to spending an extended period of time confined to its crate, we recommend you delay your pet’s travel until he or she is more effectively prepared.
Age of your pet
- Puppies and kittens traveling within the U.S. and Puerto Rico must be at least eight weeks of age to be accepted for travel on United. Puppies and kittens weighing less than 2 pounds must be at least 10 weeks of age. International requirements can be complex, please contact PetSafe for specific details.
- It’s important to note that puppies younger than 16 weeks who have not received a complete series of vaccines may be more susceptible to illnesses transmitted by pathogens in their environment. Because these illnesses may not be detected by a brief pre-travel health checkup, we recommend you ask your veterinarian to perform a more comprehensive exam, including testing for intestinal parasites, to ensure a healthy travel experience.
- Puppies imported to the U.S. must be at least 16 weeks of age and must be fully immunized against rabies before being imported into the U.S. The rabies vaccination must be administered no earlier than 12 weeks of age of the dog and at least 30 days before arrival to a U.S. port of entry.
Older pets, as well as very young animals, are more sensitive to the effects of stress from travel conditions. We recommend you consult with your veterinarian about additional health screenings for your very young or old pets to assess the risk of injury or death during air travel.
Please note that puppies and kittens must be a minimum of 2 pounds or at least 10 weeks old to travel.
It’s important to note that puppies younger than 16 weeks who have not received a complete series of vaccines may be more susceptible to illnesses transmitted by pathogens in their environment. Because these illnesses may not be detected by a brief pre-travel health checkup, we recommend you ask your veterinarian to perform a more comprehensive exam including testing for intestinal parasites, to ensure a healthy travel experience.
Overall health of your pet
Overweight animals or those with pre-existing health conditions are more likely to have a negative reaction to air travel. Please discuss your pet’s travel plans with your veterinarian to ensure that your pet is fit to fly.
PetSafe supports the American Veterinarian Medical Association’s recommendation to not accept animals that have been sedated. United will not knowingly accept a dog or cat that has been or appears to have been sedated and accepts no liability for the death or sickness of an animal caused by any drug.
The duration of the journey, including flight length and number of connections, can increase the stress level on your pet and put him or her at a higher risk for injury or death. To comply with the Animal Welfare Act, dogs and cats are required to have a comfort stop if the total length of their journey is more than 24 hours.
- Comfort stops are completed at a designated kennel facility
- Customer will be charged applicable comfort stop fees based on connection city
Temperature and environment
PetSafe uses climate-controlled vans at all major airports and many other locations, and keeps animals in holding areas within a temperature range of 45-85° F. However, depending on the outside temperature and PetSafe’s facility locations along the route, your pet may encounter temperature variations during their journey and/or be exposed to a noisy cargo warehouse environment while waiting to board their flight or be picked up at their destination. Some animals, such as short-nosed or hairless breeds, or old or very young animals, are more sensitive to these environmental changes and at greater risk for injury or death. Please consider these factors when you plan your pet’s travel.
PetSafe will also restrict pet travel to and from specific locations during extreme weather conditions.
Risk factors for certain breed types
While every pet is unique, there are specific physical attributes and characteristic behaviors common to certain breeds. In some cases, these factors require that special consideration is given to whether the pet is prepared to travel by air, the design of the travel crate, weather conditions along the route and other details. Specific breed types and the elevated risk factors associated with these breeds are listed below:
- Snub/short-nosed (brachycephalic) dog breeds, as well as cat breeds like Persians and Himalayans, have physical traits that make them more prone to breathing issues and heat stroke which can cause serious injury or death. These issues can be aggravated by high temperatures, humidity and stressful conditions. Be sure to consider the overall health, age and fitness level of your pet and discuss this issue with your veterinarian.
- Hairless animals, including certain cat and dog breeds, and Skinny or Baldwin Guinea Pigs, are sensitive to colder temperatures. This sensitivity should be considered when planning your pet’s travel.
- Strong-jawed, powerful and muscular dog breeds can become bored or anxious during travel and may attempt to escape from their crates causing their own injury or death. These breeds require a reinforced crate — IATA Container Requirement #82 (CR82) — to minimize the risk of injury or escape by chewing through their crate.
- Larger high-energy breeds, including Labrador and Golden Retrievers, as well as dogs with separation anxiety, have injured themselves trying to escape from a travel crate. The risk of injury or death is much higher if the dog is not properly acclimated to being confined to their crate.
If your pet displays behaviors such as excessive chewing or clawing even after they are acclimated to a travel crate, PetSafe recommends that you use a reinforced crate for increased safety.
If desired, lightweight pet clothing may be worn on hairless animals when deemed necessary. Anti-anxiety shirts are allowed for nervous pets who respond well to wearing them, provided they are fastened securely on the animal. Upon check-in, PetSafe staff may request that any clothing is removed to allow inspection of the animal for signs of injury or for the safety of the pet.