– Hello. I’m Dr. Kwane Stewart, Chief Veterinary Officer for American Humane, the country’s very first national humane and animal welfare organization. We’ve been working to protect and advocate for animals for over 140 years. In May of 2018, we announced that we would be conducting a thorough review of United’s PetSafe® program, and working with United to offer our recommendations for making air travel as safe and as comfortable for your pet as possible. Travel can be stressful for a pet. As a veterinarian for more than 20 years, I believe it is crucial to take these steps to ensure your pet is ready to fly. Start planning early. You should start planning and preparing at least 30 days before your pet is scheduled to fly. You will need to prepare your pet for the stress of travel. If you do not have time to properly acclimate your pet, or he or she reacts negatively to stress or anxiety, it is strongly recommended that you delay or cancel your reservation. You will need a health certificate from a veterinarian. You need to make sure your cat or dog is healthy and ready for air travel. United requires that you take your pet to a veterinarian for an assesment, and to provide a certificate of health. So, let us talk about the travel crate. This is very important. One of the best things you can do for your pet is to get them comfortable with their crate. Choose the right sized crate. Federal and international regulations require that the crate be tall enough so that the pet can stand up with their head erect. The tips of the ears or head cannot touch the top of the crate. The crate needs to be wide enough that they can turn around and lie down in a normal position. Start early. If your pet has not been crated, you need to start acclimating as soon as possible. Four weeks or more is ideal. Start slow. Do not force or rush the process. This will create a negative response, and make it more stressful on your pet and you. In the beginning, place them in their crate for a few minutes then extend that time every day or so. Make it feel like home. Placing items in the crate, like toys, a blanket, or a treat during the acclimation period will make them more comfortable. But note, that toys and treats are not allowed by United during the actual flight. Time for a trial run. Once your pet is used to the crate, place them in the crate and drive around town. Maybe even drive them through a car wash to get them used to unfamilliar motion, sights, and sounds. Reward, reward, reward. As always, positive reinforcement goes a long way. Give them treats and lots of praise to reaffirm good behavior. One important tip about feeding. Do not feed your animal, prior to departure, a minimum of 2 hours. Feeding them can cause unnecessary discomfort during the flight. Do bring a small amount of food. You will also need to bring food and water dishes that can be attached inside the crate. Air travel with your pet is a serious endeavor, and it can be stressful. You know your pet best. The more you can do to prepare and acclimate them, the better the experience will be for these furry members of our family. Use your veterinarian as a resource, and follow these tips to ensure a safe and comfortable flight for your pet.