Planning Our Summer Trip
When Mario and I began planning our summer trip to Oregon, we had to figure out what we were going to do with Rosie. If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen glimpses of Rosie on my timeline and stories. For those who haven’t (virtually) met our sweet girl, we adopted her in January from an animal shelter when she was two months old. We aren’t totally sure of her mix, but think she may be part Chihuahua, Pug, and perhaps another very athletic, hunting breed based on her looks and personality.
Weighing Our Options
For us, boarding her at a facility wasn’t much of an option because most places require your pet to get the dog influenza vaccine, and that’s something we aren’t in favor of. Rosie does have all her necessary puppy vaccines; however, we do not want to add anything into her system that isn’t absolutely required. In addition, boarding a pet can quickly become expensive and we wanted to pursue options that were more affordable. Therefore, we had two other choices. We could have a friend watch her, or bring her with us. After weighing our options, we ultimately decided that bringing her on our vacation would be best.
About a month before our trip we found a tick on Rosie and immediately got it removed at the vet. We believe she had it for about 6 days after we went hiking in Oakland for Mario's birthday. At this time she was due for another round of flea and tick medication and we administered an oral pill shortly after we left the vet. It did not sit well with her and made her sick for over two weeks. It was really scary because she is still a puppy and everything I read online said if she was vomiting for too long she could literally die. We switched her diet to boiled chicken breast, rice, and canned pumpkin for the next several weeks to settle her stomach. Thankfully, she finally got better a few days before we left. Given the circumstances, we weren’t quite ready to leave her in the hands of someone else for 6 days and we also wanted to experience Oregon with our pup who loves running and hiking.
As new puppy parents, we were a bit nervous about bringing her on the flight because we weren’t totally sure what to expect. I wanted to share our experience, what worked best, and what we would change for future trips for those in a similar situation. I have broken down the main points into a series of five steps. My story and tips are based on information for a small pet that can fit under the seat during the flight and doesn't include information for larger dogs or international flights.
Step 1: Look Up Measurements for Carrier
Every airline has different seat measurements. Some pet carriers may label themselves “Approved for most major airlines*,” but ultimately you need to check what your specific airline requires. For our flight, the required measurements were said to be a maximum of 18.5” long x 8.5” high x 13.5” wide. I was able to find this information by searching the keywords "[Insert Airline Name] pets" online.
Step 2: "Try On" the Carrier
With the required measurements in mind, Mario and I were finally ready to start shopping for the pet carrier. We went to a local pet store and had Rosie “try on” several of the pet carriers. At the time she weighed about 18 pounds. Our puppy has very long legs and she needed a size large which measured at 19” long x 11.75”high x 11.5”wide (AKA technically too large according to the airline's website) and carried up to 22 pounds. We were nervous we were going to get turned away if the carrier was too large to fit under the seat. We purchased the large anyway, but we were low-key freaking out because we didn't have a backup plan if the carrier didn't work.
Step 3: Reserve Pet's "Spot" on the Flight
When you travel with a pet it is recommended to reserve their “spot” on the airplane so I called the day before to do so. Some airlines require a reservation and others are lenient and allow you to purchase a boarding pass the day of without a reservation. Boarding passes for pets are typically a fixed rate. In this instance it costed, $95.00 USD each way. The airline we chose was lenient, but I wanted to be safe because there are a limited number of pets allowed aboard each flight. It was fairly easy and the lady simply asked me a few questions before confirming the reservation. She asked if Rosie was a pet or service animal and what kind of carrier we had. I said we chose a soft carrier and she said that was good in case it was slightly too large we could just fold it down under the seat which brought my mind to ease since our carrier was a few inches larger than their website said would be allowed.
Step 4: Train Pet to Become Comfortable with Carrier
The most important thing to do once you get a pet carrier is to train your pet to be comfortable in it, especially if they have never been in one before. Just like walking on the leash or taking a bath, using the carrier will not necessarily be easy or enjoyable for your pet right away, unless they learn to associate it with something positive. Luckily, Rosie grew fond of her carrier quickly. She has a car seat already so we think that is part of the reason, but we also began training her the moment we got it in the mail. We encouraged her to explore by hiding treats inside and turned the training into a hide-and-seek game. Within a few days she was hiding her toys and taking naps in it. We left the seat out for about two weeks so she could use it whenever she felt so inclined. By the time our trip came around she was familiar with how the carrier felt and knew that it was her safe haven.
Step 5: What to Bring on the Flight
Although our flight was short, we brought plenty of treats and a couple of toys on board so that she would be comfortable and distracted. We also brought a small blanket to use as a pillow and extra cushion. The carrier does have a Sherpa lining, however the bottom is very firm. My friend Stephanie who travels with her cat often recommended putting a potty pad on the bottom of the carrier in case she had an accident. The last item I recommend packing is proof of vaccines. We were not asked to show these documents, however I do feel these are important to have handy in case there are any issues.
Notes for Next Time
Overall, I feel we prepared pretty well for our trip, but there are two things I would do differently next time. The first is, not stress as much. We were super stressed about the size of the carrier, but it all went very smoothly. Since we already made a reservation for Rosie, all we had to do was purchase her boarding pass. The carrier fit well under the seat and the they did not weigh or measure her carrier at any point. The second thing I would do differently is to use the potty pad inside the pet relief area. Rosie was not fond of the pet relief area, so next time I would take out a potty pad and lay it on the floor of the room, to see if it makes her more comfortable.
The exact name of the carrier we purchased is the Sherpa Original Deluxe Large. I have included this one, in addition to other styles and products I recommend for your trip on Amaon. If you purchase an item through these links, I do receive a small commission. I hope this blog post helps you and your fur baby prepare for future travels. #ad #sponsored