(239) 344-8959

Get a Quote

Making Your Pet's Crate Comfortable and Safe for Their Journey

Published on: January 11, 2023  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

Lobo Dog in Kennel

When it comes to traveling with your pet, there may be situations where they will need to be transported in a crate. Not only is it safer, but it also provides a higher level of comfort. However, getting your dog or cat to feel comfortable in a travel kennel may take some time and patience.

Perhaps your pet has never encountered a crate or travel carrier before, or maybe they have only been in one when visiting the veterinarian. It's understandable that they might be wary of anything that resembles a crate. The mere sight of it can trigger anxiety and apprehension.

Even if your dog is already accustomed to being in a crate at home, introducing them to a travel kennel can still be a challenge. Nevertheless, with some effort, you can help your pet accept and even enjoy their kennel.


Choose a crate appropriate for your mode of transportation

If you're embarking on a short car trip, whether it's a visit to the vet or a quick jaunt to see friends across town, any simple crate or restraint device will do the trick. Keeping your small pets confined during car rides prevents them from wandering around and potentially causing a distraction while you're driving. For more guidance on selecting the perfect crate for your cat or dog, be sure to check out our informative article.

When it comes to larger dogs, allowing them to roam freely in the car can be dangerous. In the event of a sudden stop or an accident, they can easily get hurt. To ensure their safety, consider "fencing" off the back of your vehicle or using a specially designed doggie seatbelt to confine them.

For longer journeys, a simple carrier or restraint is still suitable. To help your pet stay calm during the ride, provide them with their favorite toy or chew. It's also important to plan ahead and make frequent pit stops along the way. Don't forget to bring a leash, even for your kitty, and pack overnight essentials such as food and a portable dish. And remember, your furry friend can sleep comfortably in the crate during the trip.

Air travel has other crate requirements  

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is responsible for regulating the travel kennels used for pets traveling by air, including dogs and cats. These regulations are in place to prioritize the safety and comfort of your furry companions while they are on the move. While some airlines may allow small dogs and cats to be carried onboard with you, this is not always an option. Larger pets will need to travel as cargo but rest assured, their space is pressurized and temperature-controlled just like the cabin where you sit.

To meet the IATA requirements, it is crucial to choose the right size kennel for your dog or cat. Guessing or assuming the correct crate size can lead to refusal from the airline, as it may not meet their safety standards. Therefore, it is essential to measure your pet accurately. Once you have the measurements, you can order the appropriate kennel online or check with your local pet store or pet transport company for availability.

Travel kennel acclimation & familiarization

To ensure a smooth and stress-free travel experience for your pet, it's crucial to familiarize them with their travel kennel as early as possible. The more time they have to adjust and become comfortable with their carrier, the stronger their bond with it will be. Soon, it will become one of their cherished possessions, just like their favorite bed and toys, or even that cozy spot on your sofa or at the foot of your bed.

Your role as a pet owner is to guide them through this process. As soon as you know that your furry friend will be flying, make sure to purchase their new kennel. Set it up in a visible location with the door open, allowing them to explore it at their own pace. Adding their favorite blanket or one of your old t-shirts, along with familiar toys and treats, will entice them to venture inside.

If your pet is afraid of confined spaces, particularly dogs prone to skittishness, start by introducing them to just the bottom portion of the crate. This way, it will resemble a cozy bed rather than a restrictive enclosure, easing their anxiety.

In addition to placing enticing items inside the kennel, engage in playful interactions with your pet around the crate. By associating the crate with positive experiences and your presence as their trusted leader, they will view it as a fun and comfortable space. "This is where my favorite things are! And my fur mom/dad is here too!"

Allow your pet to explore the kennel gradually, at their own pace, sniffing and investigating as they feel comfortable. Similar to bath time, forcing the issue will only reinforce their fear and increase stress. Instead, maintain a positive and upbeat attitude, rewarding them frequently for their interactions with the crate.

It's worth noting that airlines prohibit drugged animals from flying, so resist the urge to give your pet tranquilizers or sedatives before their flight. These substances can confuse dogs and cats, affecting their balance and increasing anxiety and the risk of injury. If your furry companion is prone to travel anxiety, consult with your vet about holistic options such as lavender spray or other natural calming products.

Make it cozy

When preparing for travel, keep in mind that there are limits to what your pet can bring on the plane. However, there are a few items you can provide to help keep them comfortable and cozy during the journey:

- A crate pad: This soft cushion will give your pet a cozy place to rest and relax.

- A thin blanket, t-shirt, or towel that smells like home: Familiar scents can help soothe your pet and make them feel more at ease.

- A pee-pee pad: Just in case nature calls during the flight, this can help with any accidents.

While it's important to prioritize your pet's comfort, it's also essential to avoid putting toys, bones, or other choking hazards inside the crate. Not only is it a safety risk, but airlines typically don't allow it, and these items may be left behind. Additionally, remember that the bedding should be under 3 inches thick to comply with airline regulations. You also want to ensure that your pet doesn't get tangled in the bedding or cover their face, as this could restrict ventilation.


New Call-to-action

Starwood Animal Transport has rebranded to Starwood Pet Travel. We are still the same great company with the best team, just now with a slightly different name.