Airlines may sometimes require that you provide a temperature acclimation certificate for pet travel.
While very small pets may be able to travel in the cabin, under the seat in front of you, larger pets are required to ride in the cargo area of the plane.
Oxygen is supplied in ample quantities there, but temperature control is not as accurate as in the passenger compartment. Therefore, in the hot months of the year you may be asked to provide assurance from your pet’s doctor that he has been used to, or acclimated to, warm to slightly hot temperatures and not suffer ill effects.
Likewise, in cold months the airline company wants to know whether your pet can handle the depth of temperatures to which the cargo hold may plunge during flights at high altitudes.
Such information is conveyed in a temperature acclimation certificate, a form which your veterinarian generates if he knows that your pet can safely experience the anticipated range of temperatures.
Little foo-foo dogs like our Pearl, who goes outdoors only to use the bathroom, quickly, then come back inside, may not be able to handle excessive heat. Not only is she not acclimated to heat, at her age she lacks the ability to remove body heat as efficiently as she used to, and could suffer heat stroke and possibly heart failure in high temperatures. Add a little stress from being away from her Mommy and the loud, foreign environment of the cargo hold, and the results could be disastrous.
Dogs and cats handle cold temperatures better than excessively hot ones, usually. When I was growing up on a dairy farm we had English shepherd dogs who would have been welcome to stay in the barn by the heater, should they have made that choice. Instead, while we milked, they stayed outdoors. And, not just anywhere outdoors, but on top of the ice of the frozen mud puddles in the dirt-and-gravel driveway.
Each temperature acclimation certificate is unique for each animal, each travel event (according to time of year and current weather) and other extenuating circumstances.
Airlines may require a limited time window on the certificates. For example, they may insist that the document be no more than 14 days old.
In all cases of pet travel be sure to check with the airline you’re traveling, as rules vary among companies and are subject to change as federal regulations are modified.
As always, ensure that your pet is microchipped before travel and that all of your personal registration information is up to date. MyPetsDoctor.com recommends the AVID microchip.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.