Sunday, November 29, 2009

How safe/advisable is it for dog to be flown in cargo hold of plane?

How safe/advisable is it for my son's 10 yr old dog (lovely Golden Retreiver) to be flown in cargo hold on a two and a half hour flight from Holland to Spain? Fortunately, it will only be one way as the dog (Benson) is coming to live with us permanently in Spain. He hasn't flown before and I am concerned about the age factor. He is calm natured and normally travels well by car and ferry but this could be an ordeal for him. Would welcome any advice on offer.How safe/advisable is it for dog to be flown in cargo hold of plane?
It is quite safe.

Most airline deaths regarding animals are due to escape of the animal during transport OR overheating on the tarmac.

Use common sense regarding the overheating issue.

Escape: I did a LOT of research about this when the very first vision I had of a dog that had been shipped to me was seeing her run across a parking lot as I pulled into the cargo terminal... it was an 8 mile run to catch her and she developed a fear of men due to people chasing her. A friend of mine's dog died when the door of his crate broke open and the frightened dog crawled into a spot in the cargo hold with no oxygen.

This is what I was told by a Northwest Airlines Cargo agent:

The best way to prevent escape of a dog during transport is through use of an airline approved crate with a few modifications: To prevent the door from being pulled in or pushed out you will need to drill a small hole on both the top and bottom lips of the crate an inch or two away from where the peg slides in to hold the door closed. When you are ready to ship the dog you simply close and latch the door as usual and then run zip ties through the 2 drilled holes and the door grate. Make sure all connectors on the crate are secure.How safe/advisable is it for dog to be flown in cargo hold of plane?
I would get bloodwork done first to make sure things are functioning well. Plus I beleive that most airlines ';highly'; recommend it , if not require it. He should be fine on the 2 hours flight but get bloodwrok to be extra cautious. good luck
Check with your vet to see if they have a mild sedative that would last the duration of the flight. I know my dog would go nuts if we tried to fly with her and that is the step that we would take.
I don't know how European airline companies are about it, but I know most American airline companies DO NOT allow animals who have been sedated in any form. A flight is a very scary thing for an animal in the cargo area. Not only are they in a cage/crate for hours alone, but there may be luggage sliding and banging in mild turbulance, there may be other animals who are disturbing and frightening your dog, as well as other factors. Also consider that flying a pet in the cargo area is very expensive, almost the price of a human in a real seat.

Is there not a train that would allow you (or someone) to travel with the dog? I know it's a long trip, but for a dog that's not a pup and not small enough to be in the passenger area, it's really what I'd try to do.
I would VERY highly recommend you do NOT do this. It can freak dogs out, and it's not safe. You cannot give them something to make them sleep. Especially considering how old he is.
There is some risk, but it is done all the time- our last three dogs were flown cross country from the breeder to us, flight time was between 8 and 10 hours. If he is used to being crated he should be ok, assuming his health is good. If he is not used to a crate, it may be a bit freaky for him. We always try to schedule night flights, as the trip has been quite long in our case, and we live in South Florida, so we worry about the hot temperature in the cargo hold once the plane lands.

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